“Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain…In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.”
“Thank you for your service.” is a greeting that is issued thousand of times upon Veterans Day, but thanking Veterans for military service is only a small part of the greater intent of this special day. President Eisenhower captured the true essence of it, in calling us to “join hands in common purpose.” Veterans Day serves as a linkage between the past, present, and future; the sacrifices made to the people they were made for; and the remembrance of war to the hope for peace.
For this year’s observance of Veterans Day, our post held five events in order to bring Veterans and the public together to pause for reflection, provide remembrance for Veterans that have passed, and foster camaraderie among all Veterans.
We began on October 29th, when we held our fall Buddy Poppy Drive, hosted by Stop and Shop on JT Connell Highway. Post members set up tables and distributed Buddy Poppies, a traditional symbol of remembrance for military killed in war since WWI. People wear the Poppies to show their respect and reverence for the sacrifices of so many, while the proceeds go to support programs for Veterans in need, disabled or otherwise. A special thanks to the manager of Stop and Shop for supporting our drive.
On Saturday, November 5th, we gathered at first light in Brahman Cemetery on Farewell Street in order to place flags on the graves of approximately 450 Veterans buried there, as well as in the North Burial Ground (also on Farewell St), St. Mary’s Cemetery on Warner Street, Friends Burial Ground on Tilden Avenue, and the Island Cemetery Annex on Van Zandt Avenue. This was attended by not just post members, but family members as well.
Though some of the graves we visit are heavily weathered, we will continue to honor the service of those who fought for our country’s freedom and later defended it from its enemies, both foreign and domestic.
Later that same day, we gathered together with friends, families, and fellow Veterans at the Elite Gun Range in Peacedale, RI. Attendees had a chance to earn bragging rights by shooting at clay pigeons or at the indoor range. Some family members in attendance had never shot before and were instructed how to safely enjoy shooting at the range. Great conversations happened around the fire, and in the billiard room there, allowing post members to build camaraderie and friendships. This event was made possible in part by the Newport Elks Lodge 104, who by means of a grant to support Veterans, offset facility costs, and Ragged Island Brewing Company who donated some Hoop House IPA for everyone to enjoy once they were done shooting. SGM Kaiser, US Army (Ret), provide instruction in basic shooting principles to new shooters and also demonstrated that he hadn’t lost any of the markmanship skills he had honed during 30+ years of service.
Early on Veterans Day, the post co-hosted a free breakfast for Veterans with the Newport Elks. We were grateful for the Veterans that joined us from the community to share a continental breakfast, tell some service stories, and show appreciation and support for each other.
Later on Veterans Day, we gathered with other Veteran groups, Newport’s elected officials, local Veterans and the general public at Newport City Hall for a public ceremony. Speakers of the day touched upon the origins of Veterans Day, remembrance of the fallen, and sincere appreciation for all that have served. It was emphasized how Veterans form an integral part of our communities fabric as role models and leaders.