Veterans were honored in Seat Pleasant on Nov. 12 through poetry, song, recollections and promises that their sacrifices will not be forgotten.
The hour-long ceremony at the Seat Pleasant Activity Center included presentation of colors by the Largo High School Junior ROTC, recitation of the poem "You Are Someone Special" by Seat Pleasant Councilman ReveralYeargin and the singing of the national anthem and "America the Beautiful" by Kim Carrington. About 40 people attended.
Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene W. Grant, who served as master of ceremony, talked to the audience about gratitude.
"Thank God you are not in Syria this morning. Thank God you are not on the border of Pakistan this morning. Thank God you are not in North Korea this morning. But you are in the United States of America. While we may have our issues and challenges, thank God our borders are protected, our skies are protected, [and] our waterways are protected because somebody served."
Peter Franchot, Maryland's comptroller, was one of several political officials at the event. He told the gathering that while he didn't have an esteemed military career like those in the audience, serving in the Army "taught me discipline, respect, taking my life seriously."
He said he's an advocate for mandatory two-year military or Peace Corps service for high school graduates.
"The Army gave me a lot more than I gave the Army," said Franchot.
Guest speaker Cynthia Mason-Posey, director of outreach and advocacy for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, shared some statistics about veterans – citing that 65,000 veterans reside in Prince George's County and that more than 10,000 of those are women and more than 2,000 of the total veteran population in the county are 85 and older.
She said women veterans have gender-specific needs, and she encouraged everyone to check up on elderly veterans who live in their neighborhoods.
"Those folks have served us," said Mason-Posey. "Now it's our time to serve them."
She highlighted a number of benefits available to veterans such as long-term nursing home care, grave and burial services and discounts from local businesses and restaurants.
While she acknowledged that the waiting period for the disposition of claims can be long – stating some average a wait of 1,000 days for processing – she urged veterans to apply as soon as possible and have their applications handled by a Veterans Affairs specialist to ensure that it's complete.
During Mason-Posey's remarks, she made a "roll call," asking if anyone in the audience had been a member of various branches of the military. About 12 veterans stood and indicated they served in the Air Force, Army and Navy. She presented World War II veteran Charles Ruffin, 85, of Seat Pleasant with a video of a public broadcasting television program about World War II veterans.
Korean War veteran Harry Andrews, 77, of Capitol Heights attended the ceremony and said he was appreciative of the event and the information that was shared.
The event concluded with "Taps" performed by Wesley Mountain and wreath-laying ceremonies.