Barre set aside political bickering and pettiness to agree to hang a giant flag across the heart of downtown this week. Bickering aside, that giant American flag (and every American flag) serves as an appropriate backdrop and reminder of this day.
It is about those who serve our nation.
This week we received a notice from Robert Dornfried, a second lieutenant with the Vermont Army National Guard. Dormfield let us know that his battalion, based in Rutland, is commemorating 100 years of service.
For sure, we could (and should) speak to the significance to those military personnel serving our nation in a variety of capacities. That is what this day is about. Ironically, its purpose is often lost.
Let’s be clear with a history lesson: Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938.
It is worth noting (and this is an important distinction) unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans — living or dead — but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
The second lieutenant shared a wonderful tribute, a portion of which we share here:
As the nation marks Veterans Day, the 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the Vermont Army National Guard would like to pay special respects to the Rutlanders who answered the call of duty in what came to be called “the war to end all wars.
More than 100,000 Americans died in World War I, including 642 Vermonters who had been summoned to defend freedom and democracy, this time on the world stage. More than 14,000 Vermonters served in the First World War. Vermonters and Rutlanders, situated along key rail lines, served as a critical junction for the flow of logistical supplies, while those at home promoted war bond drives, collected supplies and helped instill a patriotic zeal to drive the war effort.
Americans and Vermonters changed the course of the war during our 18 months of involvement, but not without overcoming unseen obstacles, including the highly contagious 1918 flu epidemic, anti-German hysteria, anti-war protests, and challenges to civil liberties. As hostilities drew to a close, another Vermonter and future president, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Calvin Coolidge, took the reins of leadership to earn distinction across the region.
As one war came to a close and Americans attempted a return to normalcy in the 1920s, one man in particular, Rutland-area World War I and World War II veteran Maj. Gen. Leonard Wing, would emerge as an unbroken link between America’s two major 20th-century wars, and an embodiment of Rutland’s military heritage and civic virtue. Wing rose through the ranks of the 1st Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment, while also rising in small-town politics during the inter-war period. He then commanded the highly decorated 43rd Infantry Division in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The lineage and honors of this unit, heavily comprised of Rutlanders, continues uninterrupted to this present day with the Rutland-based 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion.
Today, as you enter the Armed Forces Reserve Center on Post Road, you will see an homage to the inspiration and humility of Rutlanders who answered the call of duty throughout America’s 19th- and 20th-century conflicts. In the command section, a portrait of General Wing greets all soldiers, serving as a reminder of American Soldiers’ courage and sacrifices.
As the 21st century unfolds, the 572nd BEB is poised to carry on the tradition of service and commitment to the greater Rutland community and to steward the legacy of those who have served the United States of America and the Green Mountain State. Trust that the 572nd BEB stands ready to serve and defend, at home and abroad, drawing motivation from those who have served and continue to serve Rutland and Vermont.
Meanwhile, in Barre, with the giant American flag flying over downtown, another tribute is taking place today. Besides the ceremonial wreath-laying and heartfelt words for all of our servicemembers, CVTV, the Granite City’s PEG access station, is taking the entire day to air previously recorded interviews with local veterans on Spectrum Channel 192 and cvtv723.org online.
Veterans Day is about service to our nation. In no way is about politics, ego or agendas. It is about the individuals who stand up for our freedoms, our rights and serve our nation with courage, valor and pride.
Honor them today, and thank them for their service.