Since the end of World War I in 1918, the veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces have been honored each year on the 11th day of the 11th month for their service to the country.
One such celebration took place Sunday at Southport Memorial Library. Jim Singer hosted the program. He noted the holiday was first called Armistice Day to honor WWI veterans, and was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to honor U.S. military veterans who have served in all wars.
The library was festooned with red, white and blue decorations Southport Central School students made, and posters displaying the lines of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” used previously in a Veterans Day ceremony of their own. Lowering the American flag, showing respect with a moment of silence for Southport veterans lost in 2018, listening to a prayer, singing “God Bless America” in unison and hearing “Taps”’played on a bugle created a well-planned program. A reception followed with delicious cinnamon doughnuts. About 25 veterans attended.
The program featured Bob Eaton and Ron Orchard of Southport. Eaton, a 14-year veteran, served in the U.S. Army in Germany during World War II and in the Canal Zone during the Korean War, followed by time in the National Guard. Orchard is a four-year veteran of the Korean War. He served in the U.S. Navy. They both recently visited Washington D.C. to see the war memorials, courtesy of the nonprofit, Honor Flight Maine.
Orchard said after he applied for the Honor Flight Maine tour, he got a call saying they were looking for veterans interested in going to Washington, but before they could finish he responded, “Look no further, I'll go!”
While there, they all had to use wheelchairs to safeguard against falling and getting hurt, Eaton said.
“The only hard thing was to learn how to walk again,” said Eaton. When they arrived back in Portland, a waiting crowd greeted them with a "welcome home and thanks for your service,” Eaton said. This included a Miss America contestant who planted a kiss on each veteran's cheek, freshening her lipstick after every two or three veterans to keep the imprint bright.
Veterans Day prayer
The following prayer was offered by the Rev. Kit Sherrill at Veterans Day ceremony on Southport Island Nov. 11:
“Let us begin our time of prayer with a period of silence in which to remember all who have served in the Armed Forces of our country and especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
For Our Nation
O merciful God, you have bound us together in a common life in this good land. In the midst of times of confusion and conflict may we hold firm to our trust in your guiding Spirit and have the grace to look beyond our selfish interests to the common good of all. Turn our hearts from arrogance and bitterness that we may work together in a spirit of mutual forbearance and respect. Grant to our President and to the members of Congress grace to rise above the selfish interests of partisan politics and to lead us out of anger and division into forgiveness, healing and unity. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the time of trouble, do not let our trust in you to fail. We pray in your holy Name. Amen.
Eternal God, you have called us through your prophets to turn from violence and war and to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, kindle in our hearts the true love of peace and inspire our minds to pursue your ways of justice and truth. Guide with your peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, especially where your children are ravaged by war. And grant that we shall never turn from hope to despair nor from the path of peace to the ways of violence but may remain ever faithful to your calling to be agents of healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Amen
For Our Veterans
O gracious and ever-loving God, you have created us with different gifts and call us to different vocations, including that of bearing arms in defense of the nation. We give you hearty thanks for all who have responded to your calling to serve as members of the armed forces and for their devotion and courage in fulfilling the awesome responsibilities of their vocation. We commend to your care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad, and particularly those serving in countries plagued and racked by war. Defend them day-by-day with your grace, strengthen them in their trials and temptations, and in the day of battle give them courage to boldly face the perils that beset them. And bless them with a deep sense that they are in our prayers and that your abiding Presence is with them wherever they may be. In your holy Name we pray. Amen.”