Veterans honored at 7th annual muster, appreciation ceremony
Circuit Court for Prince George’s County recognizes, honors dedicated service of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces
In recognition of veterans’ dedicated service to the country and their local community, the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County held its 7th Annual Veteran’s Muster and Appreciation Ceremony on May 19 at the County Court House in Upper Marlboro.
Over 50 veterans from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces filled the jury lounge room as they sat side-by-side, most of whom were dressed in full uniform. Each honoree received a medal of honor and a certificate before signing a muster book.
Among the honorees was retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Glynn E. Parker, who served in regular active duty for 27 years from 1958 to 1985. He now serves as a commissioner for the Maryland Veterans Home and Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in St. Mary’s County.
Parker said veterans appreciation isn’t just about honoring the sacrifice of men and women who served; rather, it’s an opportunity to be around other veterans and help and guide them toward a bet- ter quality of life, something Parker considers his biggest joy.
“I know the needs of veterans and I’m out here trying to help them,” said Parker, a resident of Oxon Hill. “There’s always somebody that needs help or needs somebody to guide them. … [The biggest joy is] when you realize you help somebody and they show their appreciation. A lot of people would not have gotten anywhere if it hadn’t been for some veteran
For other servicemen like former U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Gregory G. Walters who served during the Vietnam era, he is thankful to have had an opportunity to serve the country and pass on that desire within his family.
Walters gained public attention two years ago when the Prince George’s County Police Department honored him for 45 years of service, making Walters the longest serving officer in the department’s history. Walters said he has attended the veteran’s appreciation ceremony every year for the last five years.
“I’m here today because I want to celebrate. I have a son that’s also in the military, in the U.S. Army, and has been to Afghanistan twice,” said Walters, who is currently a Sgt. Major and information technology project manager for the police department. “So just to celebrate the veterans past, present and future.”
When it comes to honoring the nation’s heroes past, present and future, The American Legion is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to fellow service members and veterans. The legion also raises millions of dollars in donations at the local, state and national levels to help veterans and their families during times of need, in addition to providing college scholarship opportunities, according to the organization’s website.
Bill Milligan, past commander of the Southern Maryland district for The American Legion Department of Maryland, was also among the veterans honored at the ceremony. Milligan served as a Vietnamese linguist for the Navy in the early 1960s, and then worked for the U.S. Department of Defense for 35 years after he got out.
Now, Milligan said he does whatever he can to give back. He is still involved with The American Legion, volunteers with the sheriff’s office and also serves on the county’s veterans commission.
“This is very near and dear to my heart,” he said. “It just seems like most of the veterans, they go in, they serve their country, come out and get on with their lives. They really don’t want to talk about things that they did. They served and they felt that was their obligation. … This goes back to the founding of this country—they used to muster all the young men on the courthouse lawn and have everybody sign up. Interesting enough, people that are doing their family history and family tree, they’re finding a lot of history because of those courthouse records that people signed up on the muster. This is the 7th annual one and I hope it continues.”
One veteran who has moved on with his life but is willing to talk about the things he did is retired Chief Master Sgt. Cornell Langford. He served about 30 years in the Air Force and then taught aerospace science for 15 years as a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor, a stint he did up until 2012 when he retired from Surrattsville High School in Clinton.
“I came from the Vietnam era which was not a very popular war. So it’s only been in the past decade that people are coming up to me and saying thank you for your service because I think America has finally recognized that a lot of our soldiers pay the ultimate price,” Langford said. “We need to pay tribute to those individuals who not only served in Vietnam, but also World War I and II. It’s something that I tried to educate to my students when I was teaching JROTC. Freedom is not free and a lot of people made ultimate sacrifices [like] leaving their families and some of them didn’t come back.”
Langford said having an opportunity to serve is both a blessing and a curse. Although the military has made tremendous advancements with medicine and technology – in helping soldiers and veterans rehabilitate post-war – Langford said a lot of them suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and other serious mental and health issues.
“When you look at the current war that we have right now in Iraq and with terrorism and everything else, it’s a different type of war because many of our soldiers are coming back with missing limbs and arms while some of them didn’t come back,” he said. “Myself and a lot of my friends are a part of Rolling Thunder. Our primary mission is to educate the public. They need to know that we have to have accountability for those missing in action.”
Rolling Thunder and its mission began as a demonstration following the Vietnam War era, wherein many of America’s military sol- diers were killed or missing in action (MIA) and their remains were not being returned home or respectfully buried. There were also reports of live prisoners of war (POW) who were left behind when the war ended. Rolling Thunder strives to affect national policy in a way that will assist POWs and MIAs. In addition to introducing and getting the Missing Service Personnel Act of 1993 passed, the organization hosts its annual motorcycle riding and gathering event – the First Amendment Demonstration Run – which takes place right before Memorial Day, according to the Rolling Thunder website.
Aside from being retired twice, Langford said he does different things for veterans which includes visiting the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, being involved with programs like the Wounded Warrior Project and serving on the board of directors for Educare, a homeless shelter for veterans.
“It’s really an honor because when we go out to Charlotte Hall and we see and interact with the veterans there who have outlived their family, it’s an inspiration and it’s also a reminder that one day I might be in that same seat,” said Langford. “It’s to let them know that they’re not forgotten and it’s an honor just to be in their presence. … That, to me, is an appreciation for our elders, for those who have gone before us and everything else. It’s a good feeling just to give back.”
Retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Cornell Langford bends down as County Administrative Judge Adams places a medal around his neck in honor of his 30 years of service. Langford taught aerospace science for about 15 years in the Prince George’s County Public Schools system. He is a former Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor at Surrattsville High School in Clinton, where he retired in 2012.
Prince George’s County Sheriff Melvin C. High signs a muster log certificate after being honored for his military service at the ceremony. High is a member of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Association of FBI National Academy Graduates, Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, Hampton Roads Chiefs of Police Association, Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and the Maryland and National Sheriffs associations.
Parker, right, and other Army veterans stand and salute as the U.S. Army Brass Quintet band performs their anthem during an Armed Forces medley.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Glynn E. Parker, who served in regular active duty for 27 years, shakes hands with Seventh Judicial Circuit Administrative Judge Sheila R. Tillerson Adams as he is honored at the 7th Annual Veterans Muster and Appreciation Ceremony on May 19 at the Prince George’s County Courthouse in Upper Marlboro. Parker now serves as a commissioner for the Maryland Veterans Home and Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in St. Mary’s County.