BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County community gathered to honor veterans with a parade through downtown Buckhannon and various other events on Monday.
The Frank B. Bartlett American Legion Post 7 coordinated the parade, which got underway at 9 a.m. Representatives from Post 7, VFW Post 3663, the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Marching Band, Post 7 American Legion Baseball team, veterans representing the branches of the military, baton twirlers and a variety of youth groups.
At the parade’s end, the community gathered in Jawbone Park to hear from several speakers who encourages attendees to honor all veterans and appreciate their service year-round.
Buckhannon City Councilwoman Mary Albaugh, also adjutant of Post 7, said every day should be Veteran’s Day.
“Today is all about veterans and the big guy in the sky brought us this warm, sunny weather,” Albaugh said. “We had a lot of people participate, and it’s all about veterans and every day should be a Veterans Day, but one day a year, we get to do this.”
Albaugh invited community member Dave Kelley to come forward and announce a donation to the Upshur County Honor Guard.
“It was brought to my attention that the van they are driving is on its last legs basically,” Kelley said, “so at that point in time, me and one other gentlemen started talking about how we could get this on the go, about trying to get the veterans a new van.”
“We got our heads together and got to thinking and honestly, this community owes a debt of gratitude to these veterans that have served and have gone above and beyond the call of duty, they served our country and still serve us today,” Kelley continued.
Kelley presented a check of $3,300 to the Honor Guard to start a fund to raise money for a new van and encouraged others to contribute.
Mayor David McCauley expressed how important it is to honor the people who have served in the military and are still serving.
“On this glorious day, our community honors all of our veterans of military service,” McCauley said. “It’s been my distinct honor to greet you on Veteran’s days, Memorial days, Flag days and other celebrations of your military service.
“During my 37 years of serving our town, I’ve shared my pride for my dad who passed away last year, having served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines, as part of the force occupying Japan with General MacArthur.”
McCauley talked about all the ways Buckhannon honors veterans, including the flags dedicated to the fallen in Heavner Cemetery that are displayed on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day.
“Right beside that is our Veterans Chapel in Heavner Cemetery, and it displays by branch of service those who have protected us,” McCauley said.
McCauley emphasized the importance of ensuring children understand the service and sacrifices veterans and military members have made and continue to make.
“Our children must be made aware of the service of those who came before them to fully appreciate their freedom and liberties, to know that all we enjoy in this great nation has been made possible by having been protected by our veterans and our military service and how the high quality of life that we enjoy in the United States didn’t just happen … rather it has been fought for and vigilantly protected for more than 243 years,” McCauley said.
He also said he wants to continue projects with the alleyway around the VFW and American Legion facilities, which he said should be called Veteran’s Way.
“I’d love to see fully paved alleys improved and safer access to the VFW and American Legion facilities with better illuminated sidewalks and American flags adorning the entire block from Main Street to Friendly Way,” McCauley said. “Let’s install patriotic murals on the exterior of these buildings. Those walls offer up some terrific canvases. That area is sacred ground to all who enter there, and we should come to know it as such.”
Post 7 Commander Carroll Westfall thanked everyone for their participation in Veteran’s Day.
“I want to thank everyone who came out today to recognize and honor veterans of our community,” Westfall said. “Thank you, Buckhannon-Upshur High School Band, for participating today and the American Legion Baseball Team, the military club and so many more that I can’t remember. Thank each of you for coming out today, by virtue of your attendance today, you hold our nation’s veterans in high esteem.”
He encouraged all veterans to join one or all the area’s veterans’ organizations, such as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans.
VFW Post 3663 invited the public to their annual program where Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-11, was the guest speaker.
“I’m honored to be speaking with you today on such an important day,” Hamilton said. “We’re here to honor our servicemen and remember their sacrifices they have made and the courage it takes to defend honor, duty and country.”
Hamilton said veterans all share important qualities.
“The service members who will be honored today come from all walks of life,” Hamilton said. “They share several fundamental qualities, they possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness and dedication to duty and integrity, all the qualities needed to serve a calling larger than one’s self.”