With the solemnity of a sacred trust from those who can no longer speak for themselves, the City of Havre de Grace led a tribute to veterans past and present during its Veterans Day memorial program at Tydings Park, Nov. 11.
Aberdeen Proving Ground Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor was the guest speaker and APG Soldiers served on the color guard and as escorts during the placing of wreaths.
Joseph L. Davis American Legion Post 47 and Weedon Elliott Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8126 presented the program, which was hosted by Post 47 Vice Commander Jeff Mack. Guests included Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin, Post 47 Commander Ronald “Bud” Lily, Chaplain Richard Haynes and the general’s spouse, Lucas Taylor.
Dozens of people gathered for the 11 a.m. ceremony in front of the gazebo near the Tydings Park War Memorial, the oldest World War I monument in the state of Maryland.
The common theme of maintaining a national pride and exalting those who took up arms in service to the nation as well as embracing the responsibility to instill that pride in future generations, resonated throughout the program.
Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin alluded to it when he noted how the nation has and continues to rely on its veterans despite the difficulties of assimilating back into a peaceful environment after war, when he read part of a letter from President Harry Truman thanking veterans returning from World War II.
“’ … we now look to you for leadership and example in further exalting our country in peace,’” he read, adding that honoring veterans is one of “our patriotic responsibilities as Americans.”
Taylor reminded listeners that over the past 16 years of continuous combat, the state of war has touched not only Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, but the nation. He said that each generation has to be prepared to fight to preserve the nation’s interests and to pass respect for those who served on to the next generation.
“It means we must never forget the daily sacrifices of all our veterans and their families, but continuously honor their faithful service, in our communities, and around the world,” he said.
He thanked Harford County and the Havre de Grace community in particular for supporting the installation, its Soldiers and its missions over the past 100 years.
“We’ve only been able to be successful because of the partnership that you provide,” he said. “Our installation is truly your installation, because America’s Army is your Army.”
“Thank you for your support to Aberdeen Proving Ground, and all of the men and women who wear or have worn the uniform. We can never repay our debt to them, but we can ensure our gratitude and respect lasts forever.”
The program included the playing of “Taps” by Edward Webb of the Maryland Air National Guard, the national anthem by Bobby Keen and gun and cannon salutes by Civil War reenactors.
The ceremony highlight was the placing of 14 wreaths at the entrance to the War Memorial. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Fred Posadas of Post 47 escorted each presenter as APG Soldiers – Sgt. 1st Class David Preciado, ATEC; Staff Sgts. Mark Chuisano and Hector Vega of ATC; and Cpl. Gabriel Guerrero of Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic – assisted.
“I thought it was wonderful, said Karen Cavanaugh of Havre de Grace at the program’s end. She added that she comes “from a military family,” and believes strongly in honoring veterans.
“I try not to miss these events,” she said.
Patrick Sypolt, Havre de Grace city administrator, said that he too makes it a point to attend the annual event.
“This one was from the heart,” he said of the ceremony. “It stirred up emotions. I think the major general gave a touching presentation and the place setting ceremony [on the POW/MIA table] was very moving.”
“I thought it was one of the best ceremonies we’ve had,” added Post 47 Commander Lilly. He noted that the post thrives in “a patriotic community.”
“It’s a viable post with a lot of community service interests,” he said, “and we all get involved for Veterans Day.”
APG Soldiers and senior leaders participated in eight Veterans Day observances across the state in Harford and Cecil counties, as well as Baltimore City, Nov. 10-11. Taylor attended four of those events, representing the installation and its workforce.