Veterans honored during ceremony on Fort Polk
November 13, 2009
FORT POLK, LA, -- An overflow crowd spread across the parking lot in front of Fort Polk's headquarters Nov. 11 to pay homage to Soldiers and other service members during a Veterans Day ceremony.
Louisiana's Fourth District Congressman, Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, was guest speaker for the event. He said the United States military has helped liberate the people of Iraq, and now it's time to do the same in Afghanistan.
"We've lost the initiative and we need to get it back," he said. "We need to do it the old-fashioned way, by putting people in villages and providing protection."
Fleming, who made his fourth trip to Fort Polk since January, said the recent events at Fort Hood in which an Army major, who was a follower of Islam, killed 13 people and wounded 30 more, were cause for concern.
"Is there a new paradigm in play'" he asked. "Are there others out there who feel the same way' Is political correctness going to be our greatest foe' Will we hamper our intelligence collecting' These are all things we need to be concerned about."
Fleming then turned his attention to veterans.
"The uniformed member of the military out on point is the one that protects our freedom," he said.
"We must remember and honor our veterans. The Bible says that wars will never end until time ends. We have to be prepared both physically and mentally for war."
Fleming challenged attendees to support veterans, especially those who bear battle scars.
"We need to provide for their needs," he said. "I've visited with veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and see the problems they face. These are young people right out of high school who have laid their lives on the line for us. Thank you for your service."
Following Fleming's speech, Sgt. 1st Class Sunnydale Hyde sang "God Bless the U.S.A." Afterward, Fleming, Brig. Gen. James Yarbrough, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, and Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Greca, placed a wreath in front of JRTC and Fort Headquarters in honor of veterans.
Wreaths were also placed by retired Master Sgt. Clarence Woods (Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3106), retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Myrick (Military Order of the Purple Heart), retired 1st Sgt. Paul Greer (American Legion Post 145), retired Col. Louis Decher (Korean War Veterans) and retired Staff Sgt. Kevin Wenthe (Disabled American Veterans).
After the wreaths were placed, Alpha Battery, 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, rendered a 21-gun salute followed by Taps, played by Spc. Randal Rumfield, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison.
Veterans Day is traditionally celebrated at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, the time the armistice ending World War I took effect.