Cass County Council on Aging hosts Veterans Day presentation

CASSOPOLIS — Gary Gravitt was a busy man on Wednesday morning.

Gravitt, the commander of Cassopolis’ Veterans of Foreign Wars post, led Veterans Day presentations both in downtown Cassopolis and the Cass County Council on Aging’s Lowe Center, 60525 Decatur Road, Cassopolis.

More than a dozen people braved the cold, windy weather to attend the presentation at the COA, which featured a flag ceremony and a speech prepared by Gravitt, who served in Vietnam. The ceremony was followed by a free drive through meal for veterans in the Lowe Center parking lot.

“I was really surprised at how many people showed up this morning,” Gravitt said. “I was very pleased.”

“A lot of times, we talk to the wind,” added Belinda Gravitt, Gary’s wife and a member of the Cassopolis VFW’s auxiliary. “More and more people are showing up to these events, which is great. Everyone thinks it’s just another day, but it’s not. It’s something very special and we need to get the word out.”

Belinda Gravitt is glad that the attitude towards veterans has changed over the years.

“People are finally coming out and thanking vets,” she said. “In the Vietnam War, people would spit on the soldiers. Some soldiers would even change their clothes when they got off the plane in the airport, just so they wouldn’t be hassled. Thankfully, people have forgotten most of that and are now thanking them. But people don’t realize that we’re free because of them and we need to honor both the living and the dead.”

Cass County CEO Marty Heirty was pleased with both the ceremony and the participation from members of the community.

“They put themselves at risk for us,” Heirty said. “It’s a great way to remember and honor them. We have a 99-year-old senior here who worked doing Rosie the Riveter stuff. It’s not just about veterans, but also about the other people who made their efforts possible.”

To celebrate veterans throughout Cass County, the COA created a page on its website for veterans, and friends and family members of veterans, to share photos and stories from their years of service. Once submitted, the image or story will appear on the web page for all to see.

“We’ve had a great response,” Heirty said. “We had someone submit a story about her brother who was in the military police, who was present when 90 Germans surrendered during World War II. Another veteran drove Willie Mays to baseball games and someone contributed to a book about the Vietnam War. It’s really interesting to hear some of these stories. These are people like us, unassuming people who have contributed greatly to not only to our communities, but to history, as well.”

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