America has long stood as a shining light of hope and security around the world, and few exemplify that spirit more than the members of our military. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Coast Guard are part of an unending fraternity of brave patriots who have served our country with honor and made tremendous sacrifices so that we may live free.
On Veterans Day, we salute those who have proudly worn the uniform of the United States of America and the families who have served alongside them, and we affirm our sacred duty as citizens to express our enduring gratitude, both in words and in actions, for their service.
In Apopka, veterans, elected officials, and members of the community gathered at the Veterans of Foreign Wars/Apopka Community Center this morning to celebrate, honor and remember the sacrifices of the military at a Veteran’s Day program.
Army veteran William Boyd was the featured speaker. He asked the question ‘how do you recognize a veteran?’
“Only 10-percent of our nation’s population has served in the military,” he said. “And that 10-percent was forever changed by doing so. No matter their status in life, they will stand a little taller knowing they served their country.”
Post Commander Artie Vecchio also spoke of honor among veterans and the appreciation he has for the military and their dedication and sacrifice.
Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer opened the ceremony with a brief story about his uncle who fought in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, and then read a poem written by US Army Sergeant Josh Helterbran who is with the HHC 224th Engineer Battalion currently stationed in Iowa.
The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass,
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and
said, "No, Lord, I guess I ain't,
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod,
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."
The example our nation's veterans set throughout their lives is a testament to the drive and perseverance that define the American spirit and character. Let us never forget our obligations to these heroic individuals and never forget those who paid the ultimate price for America’s liberty.
Happy Veteran’s Day and thank you for your service to us all.
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