Remembering our heroes
Published: November 12, 2007 | 6832nd good news item since 2003
As a chill wind blew over the veterans and their families at a cemetery in Port Huron on Sunday, Katie Stephens took her audience to Flanders Fields in Belgium.
“In Flanders’ Fields the poppies blow/between the crosses, row on row,” read Katie, 10. “That mark our place; and in the sky/the larks, still bravely singing, fly/Scarce heard amid the guns below.”
The poem – written from the perspective of fallen soldiers – was written about WWI, which ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when Germany signed the Armistice treaty agreeing to end the conflict.
Nov. 11 now is recognized as Veterans Day in the United States. Today, government offices and many businesses are closed to observe the holiday and honor all of the veterans who have served for the country.
On Sunday morning, veterans and their families gathered at the St. Clair County Allied Veterans Memorial Cemetery to watch a ceremony that included presentations by the fifth grade students from Howard D Crull Elementary in Port Huron and a performance by the St. Clair County Honor Guard.
All of the students involved in the presentation have family members who are veterans or active duty soldiers.
“I learned that it means a lot to people that their family served,” Katie said.
“We’re grateful to the men who served to keep us free,” said Katie’s mother, Karen Stephens. The two were planning to visit the grave of one of Katie’s uncles, Vietnam veteran Michael Stephens.
Alyssa Barr, 10, read about the history of Veterans Day at the ceremony. She said she was thinking about her father, Sgt. Jason Barr, who is currently serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq.
Fifth-grade students raised the money to buy flowers for a wreath and urn that were added to the veterans memorial, said fifth-grade teacher Marc Polack.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, veterans, soldiers and their supporters gathered at the American Legion Hall in Port Huron to remember the day and listen to a speech by Col. John Theisen, commander of the 127th Maintenance Group (Air Combat Command) at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
There are 16,500 veterans in St. Clair County, said Raymond Carrier, president of the St. Clair County Allied Veterans Council, who was master of ceremonies.
Theisen, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, addressed the current state of the military. He said the military needs more funding and troops to support defense efforts at home and abroad and predicted that cyber attacks would pose a threat to national security in the future.
He also gave thanks to yesterday’s soldiers.
“That’s the greatest you’ll give to any one is yourself,” he said. “I pallor when I look at you. If we didn’t have you, as a country we would not be where we are today.”
Art Boerre, 88, of Marysville, is an Army vet who attended the ceremony to remember those who didn’t return with him from the Pacific Theater in WWII.
“I’m just paying recognition to all the fallen comrades,” he said. “I wouldn’t miss it for anything because they deserve to be honored.”
There were also Veterans Day events Sunday in Peck and Port Sanilac and a ceremony was planned this morning at Fort Gratiot Middle School.