By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON —
The Mt. Vernon VFW Post 9233 hosted its 21st annual Buddy Poppy Salute in honor of veterans on Saturday.
The theme for this year’s event was “The Greatest Generation.” The main speaker, Fr. Gene Tucker, spoke about the impact of war on the country.
Larry Long-Croteau, the master of ceremonies for the event, said the event is a tribute to all veterans and the portion of their lives they donated to protecting the country while serving in the armed forces.
Long-Croteau said he studied the burial of soldiers in Flanders and was surprised to find out there are more than 300 separate soldiers’ cemeteries in the area in France, where soldiers of every nationality are interred.
He said the smallest of these graves contains 44,000 soldiers, while the largest holds more than 325,000.
“I think we take it for granted when we say ‘Flanders’ that we have one place to go,” he said. “That’s not the case.
“We owe so much to today’s great generation. We must not forget the thousands of our best and brightest who are overseas.”
He said each page of American history is etched with the sacrifices of our armed forces.
There were several musical interludes from Nancy Smith and Bruce and Barbara Miles. Tucker also sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic at the start of his speech.
Tucker spoke of a recent visit to Fort McHenry near Baltimore, Md., where the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is being observed. He said the bombardment of that fort led to the words of the Star Spangled Banner being written by Francis McHenry.
He said there are three parts of historical analysis of situations such as war: The initial situation, its affect on the people, and the outcome of that affect.
At the beginning of the War of 1812, he said, Britain was the preeminent military power in the world.
“The War of 1812 ended in a stalemate, but that was the beginning of the end of English designs on the United States,” he said. “One hundred years later, the British were no longer our enemies, but our allies in World War I.”
Tucker said World War II had an enormous impact on the United States, from Victory Gardens and food rationing to fuel and tire shortages.
One of the biggest changes he said came about as a result of World War II was women entering the workforce.
“Women went to work doing all kind of things,” he said. “They worked in classrooms and took up new occupations. The war touched every facet of American life.”
Tucker said if Americans value their freedoms, they should thank the soldiers throughout history and today who secured those freedoms in the first place.
“May this country endure, prosper and thrive,” he said. “Thanks be to God for those who maintain our way of life.”
Gold Star Mother Cheryl Hunsell placed roses on a symbolic representation of Flanders Field, escorted by Marine Joshua Parker Miller.
City Councilman Dennis McEnaney read and presented two proclamations from Mayor Mary Jane Chesley and the City Council — one declaring Sunday Veterans Day in Mt. Vernon and the other encouraging the public to contribute to the VFW’s Buddy Poppy fundraiser, which collects funds for disabled veterans and the widows and orphans of veterans as well.
Continuing with tradition, the VFW post held a striking of the bells at 11:11 to remember the armistice of World War I. In addition, the names of all members who have passed away since the post’s charter were read.