Fort Meade Hosts Annual Veteran's Appreciation Luncheon
November 7, 2013
Veterans and concerned citizens must remain proactive in the effort to ensure that service members and their families are well cared for by the nation.
This was the message retired Vice Adm. Norbert Ryan, national president of the Military Officers' Association of America, shared with about 240 people at Fort Meade's annual Veterans Appreciation Day luncheon on Saturday at Club Meade.
"The challenge is, are we going to be able to continue to keep the sacred commitments that we have made to these men and women?" Ryan said. "It's going to take all of the different organizations to work to make sure that we continue to do the right thing for our troops."
The nearly three-hour event, hosted by the Retired Officers' Wives' Club, has become a tradition at Fort Meade. It was co-sponsored by the Association of the United States Army, the Enlisted Spouses Club, the Officers' Wives' Club, the Military Order of the World Wars, the Retired Enlisted Association and MOAA.
Rep. Donna F. Edwards, who represents Maryland's 4th Congressional District, was a special guest.
"This month we honor the veterans of our nation's conflicts," said Garrison Commander Col. Brian P. Foley in his welcome, "the men and women who answered the call to defend our nation when needed, men and women who understand through experience that the world is not always a safe place, and that we must always remain vigilant and strong in defense of our nation."
Former Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein served as master of ceremonies for the event, which began with an invocation by Garrison Chaplain Col. Carl Rau and the posting of the colors by the National Security Agency Color Guard.
The Archbishop Spalding Chorus from the Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn sang the National Anthem.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Jim Gilbert, president of the Francis Scott Key Chapter of AUSA, narrated the annual Fallen Comrades Ceremony to recognize service members who are prisoners of war, missing in action or were killed.
After the ceremony, Bill Sturgis, band director of the Archbishop Spalding Chorus, played "Taps" on the bugle.
In his remarks, Ryan said that Veterans Day is a reminder "that we are still the greatest country on earth because of the men and women who are here today.
"We have another greatest generation that is in uniform," Ryan said. "It has been this other 1 percent that has kept us secure and safe" since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ryan said that veteran and military organizations and the American public have made their voices heard in Congress to advocate on behalf of today's service members and families -- and Congress has listened in regard to a pay raise for service members; improved benefits for National Guardsmen, Reservists and disabled veterans; the taxation of income for military spouses; and a new GI Bill.
In addition, Ryan said, troops and military families are overstressed by multiple redeployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world, and veterans are returning home suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
"We have the most resilient families in our country, but how much more can we ask from them?" Ryan said.
Moving forward, veteran and military organizations and concerned citizens must continue to speak out and roll up their sleeves for the hard work ahead, said Ryan. He encouraged the audience to "stay in the arena."
"We as a nation can do better and we need to do better," Ryan said. "There are still many troops out there who need our help."
After the speech, Genny Bellinger, president of ROWC, presented Ryan with a $500 donation, for MOAA scholarships for military dependents, on behalf of ROWC and the co-sponsoring organizations. A $1,000 donation also was given to the Maryland Therapeutic Riding Association in Crownsville.
The event ended with a medley of patriotic songs by the Archbishop Spalding Chorus and the Vintage Voices of Centennial High School in Ellicott City, the retiring of the colors and the benediction.
Anna Conover, 17, daughter of retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kirk Conover and Rebecca Conover, said Veterans Day is a day of "personal remembrance" and that the luncheon was meaningful.
"The dedicated moment [during the luncheon] to thank people we don't normally think about on any other day but we should, was special" said Anna, a senior at Oakland Mills High School in Columbia and commandant of the school's Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
"He was right on point," Rose Pinder, a member of the Baltimore Buffalo Soldiers, said of Ryan's speech. "We have to make sure that we take care of those who go to war. We have to do the best we can."