Veterans honored and celebrated in Indian Head on Veterans Day
Veterans Day is one of the many days throughout the year where U.S. citizens recognize that the freedoms they exercise today were not free, but were actually paid for with the lives of soldiers.
Many Indian Head residents, stu- dents and veterans attended the Veterans Day Ceremony at the Village Green Pavilion on Nov. 11, in order to show appreciation and respect for veterans.
Mayor Brandon Paulin spoke
about the history of Veterans Day in order to better help others understand the significance of the day and raising awareness of veteran support.
“I encouraged everyone to help take care of our veterans,” Paulin said. “It’s something that I’ve always been passionate about. It’s always an issue that is on local, state and nation- al levels. I encouraged everyone to write their elected officials to make sure that our veterans will continue to be taken care of. We need to take care of the people who took care of our freedoms.”
The guest speaker, Capt. Mary Feinberg, com- manding officer of Naval Support Activity South Potomac, spoke about is- sues that veterans are still facing after their time of service.
“Our Vietnam veterans in general have yet to be properly recognized by our nation for their unfathomable sacrifices they made for our freedoms,” Feinberg said. “Health issues veterans face include the Gulf War syndrome, and the issue of veteran suicide is one of the most troubling, unsettling issues facing veterans today. It is esti- mated that 22 veterans commit suicide a day in this country. It’s one too many and we as a public have an obligation to treat and care for our veterans and their mental health. Just because a veteran made it back from a war alive, doesn’t mean that they didn’t leave a part of themselves there.”
Feinberg and Paulin agreed that things will only get better if citizens continue to remind their local leaders that veteran issues matter.
“People are allowed to have their freedom because there are people out there who chose to live a life that put them on the poverty line,” said Jerome E. Stoudamire, retired staff sergeant with the U.S. Air Force. “A vast majority of military members can earn food stamps. But you don’t go into the military to get rich. You are duty bound and that is why I have so much ap- preciation for the military. You don’t join the military for you, you join the mili- tary for others.”
The day also served as a time of reflection for Porter Hamrick, 94, U.S. Army, retired. Hamrick’s family brought him to the Veterans Day Ceremony in Indian Head and he is one of the town’s oldest veterans.
“I could be walking down the street and people would thank me for my service,” Hamrick said. “I served this coun- try to keep citizens safe and Uncle Sam said they would reward you when you served.”
His daughter, Sara Prebble, said her father has always taken pride in his service and is very patriotic. Even his granddaugh- ter, Katie Prebble, said she loves being able to tell people that her grandfather served. They recognize how much veterans have sacrificed for the country emotionally and mentally. However, Hamrick’s fami- ly said assistance from the U.S. Department of Veter- an Affairs has been scarce and it is still an issue that worries his family.
“[Veteran care] is a big concern for veterans,” Sara Prebble said. “It is pretty sad that the VA has dropped off so much. These veterans were promised years ago that they would be taken care of for life.”
Prebble said although Hamrick lacks the nec- essary aid veterans were promised, his face still lights up when he tells his stories of being a soldier in battle.
Senior Master Sgt. Louis Knight, U.S. Air Force, said Veterans Day allows him and other veterans the time to pause and recapture what they have gone through during their time of service, fighting for a people and a nation. He described these memories as building blocks that motivated him to find his place in his community.
The ceremony also included the Indian Head Elementary School Chorus, who led the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, as well as a special reading by Indian Head resident Richard I. Gold. The town also took the time to recognize Mabel Painter, a Vietnam War Gold Star Mother.
Senior Master Sgt. Louis Knight, U.S. Air Force, Indian Head resident Richard I. Gold, Indian Head Mayor Brandon Paulin, and Capt. Mary Feinberg stand during a moment of silence for the fallen soldiers and veterans at the Village Green Pavilion on Nov. 11.
Jerome E. Stoudamire, retired staff sergeant, U.S. Air Force, Indian Head resident Richard I. Gold, Indian Head Mayor Brandon Paulin, guest speaker Capt. Mary Feinberg and Senior Master Sgt. Louis Knight pose for a photo at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Indian Head on Nov. 11.
Mayor of Indian Head Brandon Paulin poses with Porter Hamrick, 94, staff sergeant, U.S. Army (retired) at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Indian Head on Nov. 11.