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About 100 people gather at the doughboy statue in Martinsburg to honor those who served

November 11, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Members of the Veterans Combined Honor Guard bow in prayer during the annual Veterans Day program in Martinsburg Friday.
By Matthew Umstead

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — "They fought and killed, enemies with faces, identities unknown to the bullets, shattering the protective shield ... For one day a year we honor you for our lives, that can never compare, still we try. Thanking you on this day for a million moments you lived, so we could to."

— Poem read by Michael T. Maphis


About 100 people gathered Friday in the cold wind at the doughboy statue along West King Street in Martinsburg to honor those who served and are still serving in the military as part of an annual Veterans Day program.

Featured speaker, Gary R. Miller Sr., the commander of VFW Post 896, which co-hosted the event with American Legion Post 14, asked those gathered to observe a moment of silence.

"We give thanks and appreciation for their selfless service, their courage, their indomitable spirit and their devoted dedication to our nation," said Miller, who is a Vietnam War veteran.

Miller emphasized the importance of veterans being able to get the  services and health care benefits they are entitled to because they earned it.

"As Veterans of Foreign Wars, we have been unyielding in our efforts to secure sufficient treatment for post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic brain injuries," Miller said.

Noting proposed plans in Congress to slash benefits and force military service members to shoulder more of the national debt, Miller criticized the possibility of forcing those who have served in the military to bear the brunt of government financial mismanagement.

"Our veterans have earned the right to be treated with dignity and respect," Miller said. "And one way of doing that is taking an active role in making sure that Congress and the (Obama) administration do the right thing when it comes to veterans."

Miller encouraged a prayer of thanks for those who are currently serving in the military, which he said is enduring the longest sustained mobilization of forces in the nation's history.

He also encouraged those in attendance to always remember the freedom that veterans earned for everyone in the nation.

"We are privileged to have such heroes among us," Miller said. "May God bless America and thank you."

Following Miller's remarks, members of the Veterans Combined Honor Guard fired a 21-gun salute, which was followed by the playing of taps.

Then several wreaths were placed at the foot of the World War Memorial doughboy statute, beginning with Gold Star mother Roxanne Ruppenthal, who was assisted by Miller.   

Ruppenthal's son, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stephen A. Seale, was killed in Iraq in 2006. He was 25.

"Remember all the men who have died, remember all the battles fought, remember all the tears families cried ..."  said Master of Ceremonies Michael T. Maphis, who began and ended the program by reading poems.

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