Monday morning, Nov. 11, at precisely 11 a.m., the Honor Guard marched into the sunlight. Approximately 200 people stood at attention, with their hands over their hearts as the gun salute and the playing of "Taps" took place.
Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen were all celebrated for their service to our country as the military service organizations of Pine Island gathered at the American Legion Post 136.
After a short sermon by Chaplain James Burns American Legion Adjutant Barry August made the following remarks:
Those participating in the Veterans Day ceremony included, from left, Jim Love, Linda Lewis, Frank Taugner, Ann Crawford and Pete Trazzera.
"Today is Veterans Day. It is a day to recognize and thank all those men and women who have sacrificed so much for this great country of ours.
"All gave some, some gave all, so that we all may enjoy the freedoms that we have today.
"It is also a day to recognize and thank the ladies who's relatives served so gallantly. They are the women of our Auxiliary.
"It is a day to recognize and thank the men who's relatives served our great nation. They are the Sons of the Legion. Even though these sons and daughters did not directly serve they are an integral part of the families who did. They suffered the anxieties of those in their families who served , and, unfortunately, in some circumstances had to bury them. Their family is our family.
"We here today are all a part of one BIG family. We thank all of you here today that celebrate Veterans Day. May God bless you all and may God bless America."
Please join me in saying, "Amen."
One of the oldest veterans present was St. James City resident James Dolph, who will be 90 years old next April. Dolph served in the United States Navy during World War II from 1943 to 1945 and when he returned he married his high school sweetheart.
"I served in the Navy in the Asiatic Pacific," Dolph said. "I was aboard a fleet oiler known as 'a floating gas tank.' We refueled aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines and you name it. They would pull along side and with 6 to 8-inch hoses we'd couple them up, and we had all kinds of pumping equipment, we'd pump for hours 100 octane gasoline.
Dolph went on to say, "I woke up this morning with memories of several occasions on the ship that weren't very comforting. When they would sound general quarters (GQ) everyone went to their battle stations. The carriers would catapult planes and sometimes they wouldn't get up enough speed and drop into the sea. Many, many men lost their lives. Whenever they sounded GQ, you knew you had a problem."
Each year the Pine Island Veterans Day celebration alternates between the American Legion and the VFW.
"This is a day to recognize the young guys," said Keith Keefer, Commander of VFW Post 4353. "Us old guys are antiques. But the young guys, the veterans that we have today, that are out there doing the jobs we did 30, 40 and 50 years ago, this is a day to recognize them. It seems the older generation looks down on the younger generation because they don't have the same values. But it's always the few that give their generation a bad rap. It makes me feel good that enough of them serve our country."
"The ceremonies today were great," said Frank Taugner, American Legion Post Commander said. "This is all about serving the community. Today we had a great turnout, the weather was perfect and everyone here seems to be having a good time."
The event wrapped up with lunch served to the veterans.