At exactly 11 a.m. today, the Honor Guard rang the bell at American Legion Post 49 in Warsaw as part of this year’s Veteran Day service to honor and remember all veterans.
During the same event, John Sadler presented the Warsaw Community High School Junior ROTC with the Meritorious Service Award and Ken Locke surprised Kosciusko County Veteran Service Officer Darryl McDowell with the Order of Kosciuszko Award.
“In 1918, the world had never seen such killing. Between 15 to 19 million people died during World War I and another 23 million were wounded,” Locke said on the history of Veterans Day after the bell ringing. “The Industrial Age had industrialized death and Europe became the factory floor for new weapons and new means of killing, from tanks and airplanes to gas and machine guns.”
World War I started in 1914 and the killing continued “without let up” until Nov. 11, 1918, he said, when the Allies and Central Powers signed an armistice that ended the slaughter.
“Just about every town, city, village felt the pain of war. France alone lost nearly 1.7 million people on the battlefield or by disease. The United Kingdom lost between 860,000 to 1 million. The United States, which entered the conflict on April 6, 1917, lost 160,708 service members,” Locke stated.
Germany signed the armistice in a railroad car and the armistice was to take effect Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. Bells rang out across the world.
“Armistice Day was supposed to mark the end of the war to end all wars. It is now called Veterans Day as Americans honor the veterans of all wars and conflicts,” Locke said. “In the 100 years plus since 1918, U.S. service members have fought in the second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations from Desert Storm to Lebanon to Grenada and Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan and all other places, and we should always remember American service personnel are serving right now in a very dangerous place in the Middle East. So we ring these bells of peace today.”
Anyone who has been in a war will tell you that they want peace, he said. “We pray for peace today.”
Ken Locke (R), American Legion Post 49, presents Kosciusko County Veteran Service Officer Darryl McDowell (L) with the Order of Kosciuszko Award today during the Veterans Day ceremony at the Post. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
Sadler then presented the WCHS JROTC with the Meritorious Service Award. In presenting the award, Sadler said it is for service to God, country, community and to veterans and their organizations. He talked about the JROTC’s involvement in the Boomerang Backpack program, as well as provide color guards for civic and military events.
Upon accepting the award, Major (Ret.) Friedrich Josellis, instructor for WCHS JROTC, said it was an honor to be at the event and receive the award on behalf of all the present and past cadets. He talked about his own path to taking on a leadership role and becoming an JROTC instructor.
To the assembled veterans at Saturday’s program, on the JROTC program he told them, “This is your future, and, honestly, the future is really good. They’re going to lead things in a different way than you got used to or I was used to. They’re going to do it a lot more differently, but I can assure you, and I want to assure you, that your future is actually quite bright. They are out there and they do care, and that should give you peace and me peace as we get ready to hand over the keys of our nation’s security to them.”
The Order of Kosciuszko Award is presented each year on Veterans Day to recognize an honorably discharged veteran who has given exemplary service to Kosciusko County.
In presenting the award to McDowell, Locke said McDowell served in the U.S. Army for 30 years. He retired as a colonel and served in multiple posts. McDowell doesn’t bring attention to himself, Locke said, “But I’m telling you, I’ve watched him serving veterans and he does an amazing job each day. I watched him out at the Stand Downs, how he relates to veterans, he does an awesome job.”
Locke said McDowell probably doesn’t like recognition but presented him with the award before McDowell gave the short keynote address.
McDowell said he doesn’t like to dwell on the sorrows, preferring to focus on the positives and what it means to be a veteran.
“Today, for me, is a celebration and a recognition, but in some ways it is a somber day. This day was originally observed as Armistice Day and I can’t stress enough the 11, 11, 11 - the importance - as many in the younger generation understand the 9/11, which ties to our Gulf War, to our Afghanistan piece. That rings and that coincides and it helps you remember and not forget. The same thing here as 11 11/11 is an important moment, not only for the U.S. but other nations that were in there. The bells rang at 11 o’clock local time in each one of those nations, representing what we know then is to pay respects to the fallen,” McDowell said.
It’s the day the guns went silent in World War I on the western front in 1918, he said. “It’s also the joyous and happiness of folks realizing that their loved ones may be returning to them in short amount of time and that there will be no more blood loss.”
The Kosciusko County Extension Choir started off the Veterans Day ceremony by singing a number of patriotic song. McDowell said if you were listening closely to the words they were singing, some of it should have “struck deep into your heart.” There’s the fear of things a person has to overcome, but also the joyfulness in being able to thank the veterans of today, the past and ones to come for what they have done and sacrificed.
McDowell talked about the war monument on the county courthouse lawn that recognizes those from Kosciusko County who paid the ultimate price in serving the nation in war.
Dan Beam (L) leads the Kosciusko County Extension Choir today during the Veterans Day ceremony at American Legion Post 49, Warsaw. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
“It is an honor for me every time, every day that I pass in recognition of those names. But I do want to encourage all of you that, they paid the ultimate price during combat, but we should never forget the veterans that sit before us, the ones that passed that are no longer with us, that paid the sacrifice of raising the right hand to serve the nation, whether you were drafted or you chose to enlist. We should not forget the veterans because it’s a sacrifice that only they will know, truly, in the defense of our nation’s wars,” he said.
McDowell thanked all the veterans there for their service and sacrifice.
“You represent the best of us and the best of America. We salute you and appreciate the great cost that often comes with serving,” he said.
He recognized the families of veterans “who have shouldered the weight of the nation’s wars” and the sacrifices of the military men and women. “Today’s Veterans Day, let’s celebrate what we can accomplish when we work together. Let’s recognize the service doesn’t end in the military and that ‘thank you’ is just the beginning of gratitude.”