WEIRTON Retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Fred Felton reminded area residents Monday that not all of the sacrifices of war occur on the battlefield.
Felton, the guest speaker for Monday's Veterans Day observance at the Millsop Community Center, applauded the sacrifices of those who gave their lives in battle, but also pointed out how far too many soldiers return home wounded in body or spirit.
"It's important to remember not only the price paid by veterans to maintain our freedom, but the price paid by their heartbroken families as well," he said, adding that too many come home from war suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome or life-altering wounds "that take a toll on veterans as well as their families."
REMEMBERING — Markos Apesos, a member of American Legion Post 10 Honor Guard, lays a wreath commemorating the sacrifices of America’s World War II veterans Monday during Weirton’s Veterans Day observance in the Weirton Room at the Millsop Community Center. -- Linda Harris
"Sometimes all that's needed is a simple thank you," he added.
Felton also pointed out many veterans struggle to find jobs once they return home, and too many others end up living in the streets.
"It's hardly the thanks of a grateful nation," he said.
Felton said Veterans Day was created to honor "all those who have served," a list that includes those "who died long after they stopped wearing a uniform" as well as those slain in battle, and pointed out that many service men and women go on to serve their country in other ways after leaving the military.
The Rev. Ed Rudiger of Cove United Presbyterian Church delivered the invocation and benediction. Jim Lee served as master of ceremonies, reminding the many townspeople in attendance that not all sacrifices are made in the field of battle. As a case in point, he cited Mike Fuscardo, a 10-year veteran of the Weirton police force who was blinded by a crazed assailant some two decades ago while responding to a call.
Weirton Mayor George Kondik delivered the welcome, pointing out that veterans serve their country without thought to the issues and controversies that often times divide the nation on the homefront.
Music was provided by the Ladies Club Singers & Dancers and the Weir High Band, and a number of community organizers presented wreaths to honor the sacrifices of America's service men and women.
The ceremony was held in Millsop Community Center's Weirton Room, a decision Kondik said organizers made after wintry weather marred last year's observance.
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)