Veterans honored at Ligonier ceremony
Patriotism, remembrance, honor and support were entwined on Nov. 9, as a crowd of all ages and allegiances gathered to pay tribute to the military men and women, past and present.
The ceremony began with an introductory welcome by master of ceremonies Steve Kimmick, who serves as second vice-commander of the Byers-Tosh Post 267.
D.J. Jackson, Byers-Tosh Post 267 commander, followed, thanking the audience that lined the Bandstand and streets.
“We want to thank the LVHS band, the Junior ROTC-all of you have taken time out of your day. We really, really appreciate it,” said Jackson, who served in the U.S. Navy for 25 years.
He went on to emphasize the efforts of sacrifice, tolerance, bravery and discipline.
“We must cultivate these virtues — in a quest for world peace,” Jackson said.
Ligonier Mayor Ormond “Butch” Bellas took the podium, calling on citizens to proudly display the country's flag and salute the fallen and departed. The mayor personally lauded the veterans. “You were there for all of us,” he said.
After the speakers, hands and hats were placed on hearts, as a firing squad comprised of four veterans fired commemorative shots and a live version of taps was played by a trumpeter on the bandstand. The Ligonier Valley High School marching band performed “The Star Spangled Banner” and the flag was raised.
“It's good we should remember-we need to honor our vets,” affirmed Simon Brown, 12, a Ligonier Valley Middle School student and member of Boy Scout Troop 375, who didn't mind dedicating his Saturday morning in order to do just that.
After the ceremony, participants gathered at the American Legion for a luncheon and ceremonial cake cutting.
“The ceremony was really nice,” said Jackson. “We weren't sure what to expect, but it was a really nice crowd, all who gave up their time to join us today.”
Perhaps the most observative summation of the Veterans Day observance came from Caitlin Michaels, 17, a Ligonier Valley High School student and member of the Junior ROTC.
“It is really emotional, every year, especially when they play taps.” Some of us, like me, want to start serving in the military, and when I see all of this I think forward-to the comrades that will be at my side,” said Michaels.
Rebecca Ridinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.