Veterans Honored During Wheeling Veterans Day Service
WHEELING – A crowd of nearly 150 people attended a Veterans Day service in the front lobby of WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling Monday as American Legion Post #1 hosted the event honoring and remembering those in the United States Armed Forces who have faithfully served their country.
American Legion Post #1 Adjutant Keith Brown, served as Master of Ceremonies, and Post #1 Commander John Powell provided a welcome statement. Both Brown and Powell offered comments on the importance of honoring all veterans.
“First and foremost today, I want to begin by recognizing all those among us who have been a part of the great brother- and sisterhood we call the U.S. Military,” Brown said. “Our veterans, active duty service members, guardsmen and reservists — it is your service and sacrifice that has kept our country safe and free. … No matter what branch you served in, whether it was peacetime or wartime, whatever your job path or how many years you served, raising your hand and committing yourself to service in the the military was a brave and selfless act.
“Thanks to those who have served and those who continue to serve today. America can sleep peacefully tonight,” Brown added.
Powell said it was important to remember the sacrifice made by all veterans defending the country 365 days a year.
“The heroism that has been demonstrated time and again by veterans from the American Revolution to the global war on terrorism goes sometimes unnoticed by those of us who enjoy the security that their sacrifice has provided,” Powell said.
He spoke of the sacrifice by veterans and Gold Star Families, who have had to endure the loss of a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“Our debt to these heroes can never be repaid, but our gratitude and respect must last forever,” he added.
Several American Legion readings were offered by: Powell, Marcia Bolner, president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit #1, Post #1 Vice Commander Charles Hood, Constina Lathon, adjutant, Post 89, 2nd Vice Commander Post #1 Greg McCroskey, Third Officer Post #1 Bob Joseph.
Applause broke out following the speech by guest speaker Sgt. Major Lee Bonar, who retired from the United States Marine Corps following 33 years of military service. Bonar began his speech by thanking all “those cornerstones” back home — families and all first responders — who the support veterans and communities while they are called away for military service.
Bonar asked all first responders in the crowd to stand as he recognized their continued support and service.
“I want to recognize you … for fighting the war at home while we are away and keeping our families safe. We think about you all the time. So thank you very much,” Bonar said.
“As veterans, I want to talk about our bloodline. Our bloodline is very important to me … that’s what we share as veterans,” Bonar said, speaking of the vital camaraderie shared among all veterans. He said as veterans, it’s about those “shared experiences, and those intangible moments.”
“As veterans, the things that mean the most to us is whose on our right and whose on our left and those cherished experiences that make us who we are, those brothers and sisters that made us better men and women,” he added. “In those challenging times we think back to you, those people in Wheeling … those are the ones that keep you going. … We fight for home, we fight for the way of life that brought us up. We fight for that life we cherish. And we wouldn’t understand how to cherish life if it wasn’t for being raised and being molded and having the morals and values instilled in us, and growing up in a hometown like Wheeling, West Virginia.”
Bonar spoke of the “ember that burns” in all veterans to make that choice to protect the homeland by being willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice and being willing to sacrifice their life so all citizens can live the life they do.
“That is what it is to be a veteran. That is what we celebrate today. And no veteran can do it without that love, compassion, understanding and patriotism that we got from every one of you. And today I just want to thank you, tell you I love you, tell you I appreciate you, and I am so thankful for allowing me to serve you for 33 years in the United States Marine Corps,” he added. He went on to thank Post #1 for hosting the event.
Also participating in the ceremony were: American Legion Post #1 Color Guard, who made the Presentation of Colors. The invocation and benediction was offered by Larry Bloomfield, chaplain of Post #1. John Nanny, commandant of Marine Corps League Det # 771, lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Martin Kimble, member of Wheeling Elks BPOE #28 read the piece “Old Glory,” followed by a reading by his wife Rosalie Kimble. Brown lead the POW/MIA Ceremony — a ceremony dedicated to the fallen comrade. In addition to the National Anthem, D. David Stiles of Wheeling provided a number of other musical selections, including: “The Good Lord and the Man,” and “Hallelujah.”
Post #1 also presented a police officer of the year award to officer Kevin Kuca, and firefighter of the year award to Lt. Edward Geisel for both of their achievements and outstanding dedication to the citizens of the community.
Also honored with the Legionnarie of the Year Award were Post #1 members Robert “Zac” Wycherley, Larry Bloomfield and John Bolner for their outstanding service to the legion and the community. The ceremony concluded with Keith Brown, Adjutant Post #1, who provided the playing of “Taps.”