Violinist Joseph Letteri, South Lakes High School Senior, plays the National Anthem while Bob Thompson, 1st Vice Commander, American Legion Post 184, Herndon/Reston, renders a salute.
Herndon David Kirby, Commander, American Legion Wayne M. Kidwell Post 184, stands behind the podium at the Veterans Memorial, Town Green, in Herndon, Virginia. “It’s now the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” he says to the gathered crowd. “We will now observe our full two minutes of silence, a pittance of time, to reflect on those serving, those who have served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
Following the moment of silence, HHS Junior Naval ROTC Color Guard post the colors and South Lakes High School Senior, violinist Joseph Letteri, plays his rendition of the National Anthem. Kirby said Letteri is applying to the Naval Academy.
First Commander Bob Thompson of the American Legion Wayne M. Kidwell Post 184 gives the Invocation. He prays for veterans to feel honored, “Not just today but every day,” adding: “We give special recognition to our wounded warriors. We realize that many of our heroes are dealing with physical and emotional wounds that occurred as a result of their time in service to this country. We ask that they be given the best treatment available”.
Following the Invocation, Kirby introduces Guest Speaker, Colonel H.C. “Barney” Barnum, Jr. USMC (retired), listing his numerous personal medals and decorations. Kirby said that Barnum was the fourth Marine to be awarded the nation's highest honor, the Medal of Honor for valor in Vietnam.
“It is the veteran, not the preacher, who gives us freedom of religion. It is the veteran, not the reporter, who gives us freedom of the press. It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble. It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to fair trial. It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote. It is the veteran who salutes that flag.” Pausing, he adds: “It is the veteran who serves under that flag”.
Barnum said, “It is the veteran, not the preacher, who gives us freedom of religion. It is the veteran, not the reporter, who gives us freedom of the press. It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble. It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to fair trial. It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote. It is the veteran who salutes that flag.” Pausing, he adds: “It is the veteran who serves under that flag”.
BARNUM AND KIRBY, each then lay a wreath at the base on the Veterans Memorial at the Town Green. Following the Laying of the Wreaths, Thompson, in his Benediction, asks that God watch over the veterans, bless them, comfort their hearts and grant them peace.
Kirby said, “We are flying our Avenue of Flags until dusk at the Chestnut Grove Cemetery. We now have 64 Casket Flags of deceased veterans who make up this inspiring tribute to those area veterans who have passed.”
Town Council Member-Elect Bill McKenna said, “I lost two uncles in World War II. Veterans Day means a lot in my family”.
Town Council Member Sheila Olem attended the Observance with her mother, Gracie Olem, visiting from Alabama, who talked about her family members who had served and the impact their service had on her family’s life. She commented, “Several uncles, first-cousins, my brother and my husband served in WWII. So we had a lot of our family who gave to this country which we are so thankful that we have today.”
Art Anselene, Town Manager of Herndon, said, “I had family members who served. My father was in the military in WWII and he never liked to talk about it. Over the years, he always went to his army reunions, with his battalions and all, and to him it was vacation. He would talk with them, but he would never talk about the war (with us) or want to write about it”.
AFTER THE OBSERVANCE, Del. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-86), said, “Seeing our people in the community, who have given their time and treasure, it’s so important we give back to them and let them know how important their service has been. We are not doing enough.”
Following the Observance, the Herndon Woman’s Club served refreshments in the lobby of the Municipal Center. Kathy Herbert, President of Herndon Woman’s Club, said, “This event is very important to our club and to me personally because of my family and their service throughout the years.”