Veterans Honored Monday
Surrounded by men and women who pledged their lives to serve their country, retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. William G. Hine opened the annual Veterans Day ceremony Monday outside the Fulton County Courthouse with an apt quote from Hubert Humphrey.
“What we need is critical lovers of America ... Patriots who express their faith in their country to improve it,” said Hine, citing the words once used by our nation’s 38th vice president.
Having spent 20 years active service at sea and at major command staffs ashore, the Harrisonville area man assured the crowd at the 11 a.m. ceremony that he too had spent time in foreign lands and on the high seas away from loved ones.
“ ... My daughters and the lady I married lived apart from me ... and they wondered when the long absent father and husband in distant places was going to come home. I salute what you have done for your country. With all its faults, it’s still the best country in the world to fight for, to preserve and to make better,” said Hine, drawing a round of applause from those on hand.
However, it was at home in the United States where Hine realized the debt he owed to his fellow comrades in arms. While reading casualty reports of dead and wounded in Vietnam, Hine said he grew increasingly frustrated when questions arose about the nation not providing its best for those who served in Vietnam.
Hine’s duties would also include time in the Pentagon in the Vietnam section of Strategic Plans and Policies Division of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Eventually Hine was tasked with final recommendations on which Vietnam War Era veterans should receive the Medal of Honor for combat operations. At night and by the light of a desk lamp, Hine said he would “cry and sob over the bravery of the unselfish men” described in the reports he reviewed. His nighttime duties offered him solitude without the embarrassment of what fellow staff members may think, he stated.
“A grateful nation may not have recommended you for any recognition for your service but I want to say today, this special day for you, in behalf of the United States with all my heart, thank you for your service to the rest of us,” stated Hine.
“We honor those fallen comrades today as well as the living citizen soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen, who have survived and in God’s mercy are alive and well and with us today,” he said.
In 1975, President Gerald Ford, also a World War II veteran, signed law designating November 11 as Veterans Day, to honor all veterans who have served, living or dead. Recalling the late Harry Johnston’s annual appearances at Veterans Day garbed in his World War I uniform, Hine pointed out Johnston was a witness to the importance of the day.
“Ironically, World War I was to be the ‘war to end all wars.’ We have fought six wars since World War I and a few more conflicts in between. The War on Terror and the Cold War seem to never end. We live in a dangerous time. I am afraid we shall never see the end of conflict as long as we are courageous enough as a nation to use our world power to defend the right and decent values we cherish and to protect our great nation’s survival,” said Hine.
As a means of honoring those who have gone before us, Hine urged those on hand to select men and women to represent them in the law-making bodies as elected executives of the states and United States; visit those who are hospitalized or in physical care units; show up on Veterans Day and Memorial
Day; and vote whenever an election is held.
Closing out his keynote speech with another quote from former vice president Humphrey, “Hine stated, “Be a critical lover of America, I beg you. Be patriots who are working as long as God gives you breath to improve this nation. That is the heritage you owe your fallen and disabled brothers and sisters in arms and those who respect will follow you and watch you in the years to come.”
The Veterans Day program overseen by master of ceremonies and American Legion Post 561 Cmdr. Donald Butterbaugh included several musical selections by the Forbes Road and Mc- Connellsburg high school bands led by directors Ryan Wade and Greg Strine.
In addition, Butterbaugh along with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 655 Cmdr. George Cutchall oversaw the placement of the wreath that was donated by the Decker family in memory of Col. Chester Davis and Charles C.A. Davis. Fulton Honor Guard led by Capt. Mike DeShong provided the salute to the honored dead and retired the colors.