Community Marks Veterans Day

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November 13, 2018
Community Marks Veterans Day
Ceremony Commemorates World War I Centenary
Daily News-Record  11/12/18
HARRISONBURG — A little bit of wind and cold didn’t stop patriotic crowds from flooding downtown streets Sunday afternoon to commemorate Veterans Day and the 100th centenary of the end of fighting in World War I. Many veterans stood on the sidewalks of Harrisonburg’s Main Street wearing their service hats and vests, while others sat in lawn chairs and proudly waved the American flag high as the city’s annual parade marched past.
One man stood tall on one street corner saluting every veteran who were passed by in the parade.
“It was an honor to serve this country, but I didn’t know it at the time,” said Mike Reedy, a Navy veteran, of Singers Glen.
Reed’s been attending the Harrisonburg Veterans Day parade for about a dozen years, but this year he was specifically honoring those who served during World War II.
“The WWII vets are dying a thousand a day and I want them to know that I appreciated his service,” the veteran of four years said.
Reedy said until the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, people didn’t thank veterans for their service, but now “young people come up to me and shake my hand and that’s an honor.”
Judy and Harry Biller of Lacey Spring came to the parade to honor the many members of their family who previously served as well as those who are now in the military.
For 30 years, their son, Jake, served in the Special Forces. He began his career in Fort Bragg in North Carolina, transferred to Fort Lewis in Washington and finished at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.
“He traveled the world and even served in Afghanistan,” Judy Biller said. “He loved serving his country.”
The Billers’ stepson, son-in-law and three grandsons also have been in the military, some of whom are still serving.
“There’s no other way to explain how I feel about so much of my family serving in the military,” she said. “I’m just so proud.”
Other participants in the parade included area Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts, firefighters, and area service organizations, including American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts.
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day marking the anniversary of the end of WWI. The American Legion Post was founded that same year by veterans of the Great War.
In 1954, Congress changed the name to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.
On Saturday morning, 15 veterans from Dayton and Harrisonburg’s American Legion posts 27 and 188 gathered at the Liberty Monument at South Liberty and South Main streets to honor soldiers from the city and Rockingham County who died in WWI.
The monument, a bronze statue of a seated Lady Liberty, was cast by Charles Keck of New York and dedicated on July 4, 1924. The monument includes the names of 49 city and county men who died in service during the war.
During Saturday’s commemoration, veterans participated in a wreath-laying ceremony and a rifle salute by Legion Post 27.
Command Master Chief Russel Lockey, a retired Coast Guard veteran, spoke at the ceremony about what it means to be a veteran.
“We fought imperialism, and fascism and now we’re fighting terrorism,” Lockey said. “We’re fighting around the world because of our love for this great country.”
The parade and monument ceremony were among a number of Veterans Day events around the central Valley.
Today, James Madison University will pay tribute to veterans, in particular the 6,796 who died during fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a flag display on the Quad, according to a university press release.
Flags will be placed beginning at 6 a.m. and will be removed at 5 p.m. The display will be a collective effort by the Veteran Scholar Task Force, the Student Veteran Association, the Army and Air Force ROTC programs, and the Military Occupation and Intelligence Association, according to the release.