Dozen attend observance Veterans Day at American Legion PostPublished 9:15am Thursday, November 12, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
The massacre of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5 weighs heavily on the minds of a dozen people who attended Dowagiac American Legion Doe-Wah-Jack Post 563 Veterans Day at 11 a.m. Wednesday – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
After Korea veteran Bert Smith read the casualties killed in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam, Don Hall said, “I was taken aback” by the Fort Hood massacre.
It’s one thing to have 13 killed on the battlefield of Iraq or Afghanistan, but another at the nation’s largest military base.
Louie Ketchum of Niles, who ministers with Chaplain Tommy Reels at New Life Church in the former McKinley School, teaches line dancing in Indiana on Monday nights, where one student is an 85-year-old Navy veteran he admires.
Ketchum, a Marine in Vietnam, lamented, “It’s too bad the military we’ve got now is not as strong as our World War II veterans were. They’ve got this way about them. They don’t want any accolades. All the World War II veterans I’ve met, I’ve really enjoyed being around. They’ve all got stories, but they don’t want somebody patting them on the back.”
“A lot of the American people don’t realize what our veterans go through,” said Ketchum, who was driving to a Marine reunion in Colorado on 9/11. “The thing that bothers me in this country is the way we let other countries run us down. We ought to tighten up our own country.”
“I’m proud to be an American,” Reels, another Vietnam veteran, said. “I thank God for our military. I thank God for all who are serving right now. I commend you for being here today. John wrote about some things going on. It’s about time somebody said something and we get together. I’m glad we have the freedom to do something like that.”
City Clerk James Snow framed the day in terms of the 1918 World War I Armistice.
“That term is not used, but it was supposed to end ‘the war of wars.’ It did not happen. It is happening today. We are here to give our support in any way we can.”
American Legion Post Commander Lawrence O. Starrett, a World War II veteran, encourages everyone to speak their piece to reinforce the freedom for which veterans fought.
“When you buy everything from China and Japan, how are we going to get better?” he asked.