July 14, 2024

Nov. 13—HENDERSON — Dozens of American Legion and Auxiliary members attended the Veterans Day ceremony at the American Legion Post #60 on Saturday.

Following the singing of the National Anthem and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, Post Commander Hartwell Wright delivered brief remarks on the need for patriotism and Americanism during these difficult times with wars in Ukraine and Israel — followed by a speech by Division 1 Commander Jeremy Hetrick.

“When we speak of Veterans Day we must also remember the families of the veterans,” Hetrick said. “When my middle daughter was born, I left for a year tour in Korea three months later. I came home from Korea for three weeks before deploying to Kuwait for the Invasion of Iraq — and would be gone almost three years of my young daughters’ life. Families sacrifice too.”

Daniel Seehafer, the American Legion National Commander installed in Charlotte this past August, defined the focus for his term by using the phrase “Be the One.” In addition to being the one a fellow veteran might turn to in times of trouble, it also means being the one that steps up to improve the lives and communities around you.

Hetrick, who oversees 49 posts in his capacity as a Division Commander, went on to say that veterans have not always been welcomed home, nor received proper medical care for their service-connected disabilities.

“How can this be when only 6% of American’s have served in the military?” he asked rhetorically. “These veterans, who wrote a blank check to ensure that America’s freedoms do not perish, did not or expect benefits or recognition. But it is only fair [that] the men and women who agreed to give their life, if need be, should be afforded respect and care they so justly earned.”

In the wake of 9/11, Hetrick said patriotism surged and Americans got along, “even politicians,” but it did not take long for that to dwindle, “even while men and women continued to serve in the longest war in American history, the war on terror,” he said.

“Our children and youth are the next generation of American’s to carry on these very principals,” Hetrick said. “But how will they accomplish this if they know nothing of patriotism, sacrifice, or what our veterans have done to ensure the United States of America still stands?”

Hetrick said that only those who served can truly understand what many veterans have lived through and continue to live through today.

“Sometimes these memories resurface and they see no way out of a bottomless pit,” he said. “Will you be the one to be that lifeline?”

The commander went on to say that when veterans left the military, it did not mean their service to community, state and nation ended.

“The easiest way to honor veterans is not by discounts and free lunches, although much appreciated,” Hetrick said, “but instead by treating each other with respect, even if they don’t agree with your opinions or views.”

On this Veterans Day, Hetrick challenged his audience to be better Americans.

“Leave a better legacy for the next generation, and never forget freedom is not free,” he said. “God bless the United States of America, the men of women that continue to answer the call, and those that answered the call. To my fellow veterans: watch out for each other and Be the One.”

Flag Retirement CeremonyAt the conclusion of Hetrick’s speech, the crowd then filed out to stand and sit by the military memorial for the ceremony of retiring American flags given to the Legion for this purpose.

“Today, American Legion Post #60 is drawn here together in the sight of God to pay our last respects to this symbol of our great nation, and to retire these flags,” Post Commander Hartwell Wright said.

“The US Flag Code reads; ‘The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

“Before we commence with our Flag retirement I would like to read these patriotic word about our Flag:

“I am your Flag. I was born on June 14, 1777. I am more than just a piece of cloth shaped into a colorful design, I am the silent sentinel of freedom for the greatest sovereign nation on earth.

“I am the inspiration for which American patriots gave their lives and fortunes. I am the emblem of America.

“I have led our troops into battle from Valley Forge to Afghanistan. I have been there though the Civil War, two World wars, at Gettysburg, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and many other missions. I walk in silence with each of our Honored Dead to their final resting place beneath the silent White Crosses.”

Flag Retirement SpeechI have flown through peace and war. Through strife and prosperity, and amidst it all, I have always been respected.

My red stripes symbolize the blood spilled in defense of this glorious nation.

My white stripes symbolize the burning tears shed by Americans who lost their sons in battle.

My blue field represents God’s Heaven under which I fly.

My stars, clustered together, unify the 50 states as one for God and Country.

I am “Old Glory” and I proudly wave on high.

Honor me, respect me, and defend me with your lives.

Never let our enemies tear me down from my lofty position

Keep alight the fires of patriotism, strive earnestly for the spirit of democracy, and keep me always as a symbol of freedom, liberty, and peace in our country.

When comes the time when I am old and faded, do not let me fly in disrepair, rather retire me from my duties only to replace me with a new flag so that I may continue to symbolize our country.

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