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Veterans Day meaning keeps growing

November 6, 2011
By ESTHER MCCOY - Staff writer (emccoy@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

This Friday will be Veterans Day, and I know it will be celebrated by the Jefferson County Veterans Association as well as American Legion groups all over the Ohio Valley. It is a very meaningful program to me now.

For the last two years of high school, I can remember Veterans Day as a day we got out of school. And that was really nice because I was "going steady," or whatever the term is now, with Lamont, and his birthday was Nov. 10. For that reason, we could go to the movies to celebrate his big day and not have to worry about getting up for school, even if it was on a week day.

As I said, it means much more to me now that I have seen how veterans serving on battlefields in all wars since World War I have had trouble talking about their time spent in battle. I can remember asking Art Panepucci about doing a remembrance story about World War II, and his answer was "no" with a sad shake of his head. He didn't want to relive it again.

From what I remember from our studies in school, Veterans Day was once known as Armistice Day, starting on Nov. 11, 1919, and first proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson to honor the end of World War I.

Howard McClure gave me a 1937 copy of the Herald-Star, and it has a story about two Civil War veterans still alert and active on May 29 of that year. One just happened to be from Main Street, Smithfield, and his name was Charles M. Blackburn, who was 91 at the time. The other was John Russell Brady, 88, of 112 Findley St., Toronto.

The story noted that from the more than 2,500 soldiers who went out from 1861 to 1865, in all branches of service of the Civil War on the Union side from Jefferson County, only those two still survived.

While attending the Valley Hospice Memorial Park and Veterans Memorial dedication in Rayland recently, Cindy Bougher, CEO, announced that one out of four deaths these days are our veterans.

It was touching to see Jack Vitell, Vietnam veteran, assisting Rich DeLuca, CFO, raise the U.S. flag, with Chelsea McCain playing taps, while Bo Walker played the haunting echo. Both are Buckeye Local High band students. It was nice to see them giving of their time on a sunny Sunday afternoon for the veterans.

I look on in awe each time the Jefferson County veterans raise the gigantic U.S. flag from the tall pole at the Fort Friendship Memorial. It starts to glide into the air with its colors all folded together but as soon as the wind catches it, the flag billows out in marvelous wonder.

Charles Stingle and Jay Kolenc are two of the veterans who usually handle the flag-raising ritual. Bill Smurthwaite is the veterans commander, and he and Charles Strizak, district 10 commander, put together a wonderful program for the Memorial and Veterans Day events.

Lamont had a brochure included in his county veterans secretary's minutes about how to fly the U.S. flag. I thought it might be a good time to review the guidelines now.

The first of the 10 guidelines notes that the flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

The flag is never allowed to touch the ground or floor. When hung over a sidewalk on a rope extending from a building to a pole, the union stars are away from the building.

When vertically hung over the center of the street, it always has the union stars to the north in an east/west street and to the east in a north/south street. The flag should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from the staff.

The flag should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up in folds but always allowed to fall free. The flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day and then raised to the top of the staff.

Never fly the flag upside down, except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. The flag is never flown in inclement weather, except when using an all-weather flag. The flag can be flown every day from sunrise to sunset and at night if illuminated properly.

That last guideline is especially for the McCoy household. We have a flag flying on a pole attached to the house. We have talked about putting a spotlight on it in the evening but it has never been accomplished as yet. We have to figure out a way that it won't shine into the bedroom window.

The county veterans group will pay its tribute to Veterans Day at 3 p.m. on Friday at Friendship Park.

This is held at the memorial to World War II and the Korean War, with an actual Howitzer, a tank, airplane, small aircraft and some other equipment that I cannot name.

There will be a light lunch served in the fair restaurant facilities after the service.

It is a great time to meet people you haven't seen for a time and have a hot cup of coffee and some food.

Just remember to observe Veterans Day in some way. There are so many who gave their lives to keep us protected and free. Don't let their sacrifices go in vain.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and the Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)

 
 

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