DEMOTTE/WHEATFIELD — The American Legion posts in DeMotte and Wheatfield held ceremonies to honor our veterans Monday and to remember those who were no longer with us. At the time of the World War I Armistice, 11/ 11 at 11 a.m., the DeMotte Legion began its annual ceremony hosting guest speaker Jasper County Circuit Court Judge John Potter and the band and choir from Covenant Christian High School and DeMotte Christian Middle School. The Wheatfield Legion hasn’t held a Veterans Day celebration for awhile and Commander Shawn Holm-Hansen said they decided to bring it back.
Potter said equated the gratitude shown to this country’s veterans is “a mile wide and an inch deep,” a quote he heard after Sept. 11, 2001. He mentioned several companies with commercials extolling their support for military personnel, one by offering a 10 percent discount to veterans and active military, another by offering the same insurance rates to the military as they do everyone else.
He criticized the NFL for having been paid to have patriotic ceremonies before and during the games. He said between 2011 and 2014, the Dept. of Defense paid for those ad moments made “to look like true celebrations of our military.” He said one team received payment to allow a National Guardsman to sing the National Anthem before a game.
“This shallow support keep our appreciation for veterans a mile wide and an inch deep,” he said. “The reason veterans don’t like to be told, ‘Thank you for your service,’ is it’s a platitude not gratitude.”
He encouraged people to get to know veterans on a personal level, listen to their stories and show them support by truly caring about them and their service.
In Wheatfield, the officers of the Legion spoke about the meaning of the day, and dispersed outside to retire the colors and hold a gun salute. Returning inside, Legion members folded the flag as veterans stood at attention, some saluting the flag as it was folded in the traditional triangle. After the solemn ceremony, the flag was then presented to Commander Holm-Hansen.
In DeMotte, the Color Guard also stepped outside to fire three volleys into the air while Covenant Christian student Josh DeYoung playing “Taps” for the ceremony. Son of Commander Dave Wallace, Kevin Wallace, stood in place of his father as master of ceremonies, introducing Potter and the band and choir. The choir sang the National Anthem a cappella to start the program.
Later the band played a march by John Phillip Sousa and the song, “Forgotten Heroes” as a memorial to the military personnel who are no longer living.
Potter said his wife’s grandfather was a veteran of World War II, and his family said he never told them about his experiences at the front line in France; however, he did tell Potter. He has dementia now, but Potter was glad he did tell his story before the onset of the disease.
He said we need to hear these stories as our veterans age and to let them share about their experiences before they can no longer tell us about them.
Wheatfield’s First Vice-Commander David Berndt said we honor those who seek how much they can give to our country rather than how much they can get.
Holm-Hansen closed saying, “In peace, we shall go forward together. We shall move forward in the sight of God.”