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Speaker thanks all veterans

November 12, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

At a Veterans Day observance in Smithsburg Tuesday, Maryland National Guard Brig. Gen. Jean M. Shinbur stressed the importance of honoring military veterans every day, not just once a year.

Shinbur also urged people to volunteer their time to aid and honor those currently serving in the U.S. military at home and abroad.

Though clouds threatened, rain held off during the more than 45-minute ceremony at Veterans Park in Smithsburg. Attendees were treated to the presentation of colors and a 21-gun salute by members of AMVETS Post 10, the Pledge of Allegiance led by members of Girls Scout troops 647 and 255, an instrumental rendition of the national anthem by the Smithsburg High School Band and a speech from Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers.

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Myers read from an article outlining the efforts 50 years ago of Al King, a Kansas business owner who pushed for a day locally to remember all U.S. military veterans, instead of World War I veterans exclusively.

In June 1954, following World War II and the Korean War, Congress changed the name of the national holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all 20th-century servicemen.

Nov. 11 was chosen as the annual day for the national holiday because it was on that day in 1918 that the hostilities of World War I officially ceased. Congress made it an official federal holiday in 1926.

Shinbur, who was the featured guest speaker at Tuesday's ceremony, also spoke of the Kansas story, saying the efforts of King and other area businessmen were special because "they closed their stores; they didn't stay open for special sales," like those of today.

Shinbur said it was important to honor all veterans, no matter when or where they served, because of the sacrifices they made for "simple love of country" and to protect the freedom of all Americans.

"To all our vets, we have a simple heartfelt message: Thank you, thank all of you," Shinbur said. "They are our heroes because they continued to overcome adversity."

Shinbur said veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars are heroes and have inspired the troops now fighting in the war against terrorism. She said it is important to treat soldiers now in more than 120 countries with reverence similar to that offered to their predecessors.

Shinbur said attendees and all Americans should make efforts like volunteering at veterans' hospitals, sending care packages to soldiers who are abroad and inviting family members of current military personnel to their homes for Thanksgiving dinner.

"Let us also thank those upholding the legacy of veterans currently serving at home and abroad," Shinbur said.

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