By Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRATNovember 12, 2013
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Local heroes were honored on Veterans Day as members of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command came out to support those who have sacrificed to protect and defend the nation.
Members of USASMDC/ARSTRAT honored veterans at the Floyd E. "Tut" Fann State Veterans Home Nov. 11 to show their appreciation for the sacrifice that veterans have made throughout the years.
"Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans, and we appreciate your service," said Charlotte Eason, veterans home department representative. "Today is a day we not only honor our veterans here, but the veterans all over North Alabama, and it is a special day all the way around.
"The Tut Fann home is special because we have the special honor of taking care of the veterans of the state of Alabama, and we feel very blessed to be able to do that here," she added. "This position just kind of fell into my lap 11 years ago; God just blessed me with an opportunity, and I have loved it ever since."
Soldiers and leaders from Redstone Arsenal were there to show their support for the veterans and remind them that they are never forgotten.
"Today is important because of the fact that we live in a country that is free and we enjoy liberties that you don't find anywhere else in the world," said Lt. Gen. David L. Mann, SMDC commanding general. "And the reason that we have that freedom and liberties is because of the service and sacrifice of many folks over many years. And so today is an opportunity to pause and remember all those who have served something bigger than themselves so that we can enjoy the freedoms we so richly enjoy today.
"Quite honestly, the military and veterans are my extended family," he added. "It is the only life I have known, so being with the veterans is like being with my family. It is special, and it is a real honor to be able to recognize these folks who have served. I have been in for 32 years and I have never seen a community go out of its way to recognize its veterans the way Huntsville and Madison County have. Most places have a day, this place has a whole week, and it is a special place."
Members of the Tut Fann team talked about why they worked there and about the success of the day.
"Today is an honor and a celebration of veterans who have come before us, who are with us now, and who are going to come later on down the road, and what they have done and are doing for the nation," said Zachary Wood, administrator for Health Management Resources Veterans Service Inc., which provides health care at the veterans home. "This day reminds us that we should appreciate our veterans and never take their service for granted. Being a veteran myself, I feel this is where I need to be, and it is an honor for me to give back to the ones who paved the way for future generations."
As the event continued, numerous veterans spoke about how special the day was and how they appreciate everyone who came down to spend some time with them.
"Today is a day of celebration," said World War II veteran Cpl. Joseph "Douglas" Dunaway, an aircraft electrician who served in the Marine Corps from 1941-46. "Even when I was a young child, I always have appreciated those who served and sacrificed for our country. I have some of the best friends I have ever had here, and I am happy to call them my brothers and sisters."
Another veteran spoke of the day's events in Huntsville and at the Tut Fann home and how special it was to have everyone come out and support his fellow veterans.
"Up until today, Veterans Day was insignificant, but we went to the Huntsville parade today and they put me in a convertible, and I have never seen so many people come out and support us. It meant the world to me," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Bill Stout who served as a store keeper from 1949-52 and is a combat veteran of the Korean War. "I want everyone to remember what today stands for. I, as a veteran, appreciate other veterans more so now than ever, and I love them all. We need to remember what we are: we are strong and brave, and we have a great legacy."