FARMINGTON – Local patriots ignored blustery winds and a chilly mist Sunday to honor past and present members of the United States Armed Forces on Veterans Day at the St. Francois County Courthouse.
Traditional Veterans Day ceremonies, such as Sunday’s event in Farmington, are held on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in honor of the cessation of fighting between allied and axis forces during World War I. Today’s ceremonies were opened at that historical moment with an invocation by V.F.W. Post 5896 Chaplain Joel Meador.
“This is a way to show your respect to all who served the United States of America’s military,” said Meador. “It’s not just a certain conflict. We honor all.”
The opening prayer was followed by the traditional posting of the colors performed by the Farmington High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC). The colors were posted under the leadership of Cadet Captain Jessica Bequette. The posting was followed by the playing of the National Anthem by the Farmington High School Band.
The guest speaker for the event was Farmington Mayor Stuart ‘Mit’ Landrum. The mayor delivered an informed speech on the demographics of veterans in the United States. He also said that many of the freedoms we enjoy in this country can be attributed to the sacrifices of those men and women serving in our armed forces.
Landrum asked the audience to reflect on the many infrastructure projects we have seen during our lifetimes, saying that none of that would have happened without the stability secured by our armed forces.
“If we can’t honor our veterans, there’s something wrong with our society. Everything we have as a country is because of these people and their willingness to go out and serve and sacrifice. Some of them have died,” said Landrum. “The names from St. Francois County are right there on that memorial and I don’t think it’s too much to take a day out of the year to think about our veterans and to honor them and to remember what they’ve done.”
The mayor also asked that residents of the community remember the 1138 Missouri Army National Guard Company in their prayers. The 1138 is made up of local men and women from St. Francois and surrounding counties. They are currently serving in Afghanistan, and will be there for the next seven to eight months.
“They are a bomb disposal unit and they are in a little outpost surrounded by enemy insurgents up in the mountains. That’s pretty dangerous work, so let’s hope that they all get back safely,” said Landrum.
The speech was followed by a placing of wreaths at the Memorial Wall. Groups who placed wreaths at the wall included American Legion Post 416, VFW Post 5896, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 12, AmVets Post 113, American War Mothers, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Veterans with Hope.
The placing of the wreaths was followed by a rifle salute courtesy of VFW Post 5896 Rifle Squad, commanded by Jerry Rawlins, past Post Commander.
Closing statements were made by Bill Henson, current Post Commander of VFW Post 5896.
“Veterans Day, to me, is a day that the American people have set aside to remember the veterans. Not just me, all veterans. This is a day for them. It means that we’re recognized for the service that we performed, for our duty, and it’s great to see the turnout that we have today. It lets us know we are supported and thought of,” Henson said.
Veterans from all branches of the United States Armed Forces were honored at the event.
The United States Army is the largest and oldest branch of the U.S. Military. The modern Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed on June 14, 1775, before the establishment of the United States.
The United States Navy was formed in October of 1775. Commander and Chief George Washington commissioned seven ocean-going cruisers to interdict British supply ships, and reported the captures to the Congress.
The United States Marine Corps began when Captain Samuel Nicholas formed two battalions of continental Marines on November 10, 1775 in Philadelphia as naval infantry. Since then, the mission of the Marine Corps has evolved with changing military doctrine and American foreign policy.
Initially part of the Army, the United States Air Force was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of 1947.
Founded by Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue Cutter Service on August 4, 1790, the United States Coast Guard lays claim to being the United States’ oldest continuous seagoing service.