Veterans Day is more than a holiday; it’s a time that our country pauses to reflect on the service of those who have risked their lives for our freedoms.
“These folks have written a blank check that says I will give to my country up to and including my life,” said John Vaudo, vice-commander of American Legion Post 19. On Veterans Day, the veteran of the Navy and National Guard said he honors “those that have gone before me and those that are still serving.”
With Veterans Day falling on Sunday, local observances have been moved to Monday.
Edgecombe County residents will have three different opportunities to honor veterans on Monday. The first event is an 8 a.m. prayer at the flagpole at the entrance of Vidant Edgecombe Hospital. The second observance is an 11 a.m. ceremony at the Veterans Memorial on the Town Common and the third event is an 11:30 a.m. celebration at the Mobley Atrium in the Fleming Building at Edgecombe Community College (ECC).
The Town Common ceremony will be “a salute to the veterans of all five branches of service,” said Marcia Cherry, patriotism chair of The Pilot Club of Tarboro, which is sponsoring the event. As the service flag of each military branch is raised and the anthem is played, veterans in the audience from that branch will be recognized. The Tarboro High School JROTC is handling the flag detail.
The celebration will also include a prisoner-of-war MIA table ceremony, said Vaudo. Cherry will read an editorial first published in the Nov. 11, 1995 edition of The Richmond Times-Dispatch – “What is a vet?”
“It helps realize where they’ve been and where they are now, because they’re all around us doing different jobs…” Cherry said, adding the tribute closes with the words, “If you see somebody that’s in service, just tell them, ‘Thank you.’”
Monday’s ceremony will close with the placing of a memorial wreath and the playing of “Taps.”
The Edgecombe County Veterans Military Museum at 106 West Church St. will be open until 4 p.m. following the ceremony.
Sgt. 1st Class Thomas E. Moore will be the guest speaker at ECC’s celebration. Moore is the Army instructor for the Warrior Battalion JROTC at North Edgecombe High School.
“Veterans Day to me is sort of a somber, sentimental time,” Moore said. “It’s a day I reflect.”
Moore describes his reflection as “bittersweet.” He thinks about his time in service – a little more than 23 years and four combat tours. A Greenville native, Moore joined the Army in 1986, a year after graduating from high school.
He thinks about his fellow service members who never made it back home. He reflects on the direction the country is headed.
“I think about the loss, children who have lost a parent. That, I believe, is going to have a lasting effect on a lot of kids in the future,” Moore said.
Most importantly, Moore reflects on the meaning of the word “veteran” – “one who has served.” When he was younger, Moore thought a veteran was a person who had retired from the military; it wasn’t until his retirement from the Army neared that he realized that a veteran was simply one who has served his/ her country, for any length of time.
He has three other family members who are veterans – two uncles who served in the Army as a military policeman and a clerk and his Brother Ronnie, who served eight years in the Army as a supply technician during Desert Shield/ Desert Storm. During Desert Storm, Moore was delivering supplies working in supply logistics transportation and encountered his brother by chance.
“I was on a mission in Saudi Arabia and there he stood. His unit was on the airfield,” Moore said.
Moore understands firsthand the sacrifices made by veterans. Now, as a JROTC instructor, he wants his students to understand the meaning of those sacrifices, “to understand that there are folks who shed blood, sweat, tears just to be able to provide for their families.”
“I’m just grateful that I was able to serve my country and now that I’m in a position to give back to veterans,” Moore said. He encourages all veterans to seek out the benefits that are entitled to them because, like him, they have served their country and “can’t get any of that time back.”