Vinton Flag Day ceremony provides a time of remembrance
VINTON– “Today we honor those who serve and those who served,” said Captain Norman Jasper, Jr., USMC, as he welcomed guests to the Flag Day ceremony at the “High Ground” Vinton-Roanoke County Veterans Monument on June 14. “We remember with the nearly 600 bricks that have been engraved and placed here at this veteran’s monument in their memory. We remember the cost of freedom.”
The day marked not only Flag Day, but the birthday of the United States Army, founded in 1775, and the first anniversary of the dedication of the monument, located on the grounds of the Vinton War Memorial.
Reverend Chris Monroe, a pastor at Vinton Baptist Church, sang the National Anthem. The William Byrd High School Jr. ROTC Color Guard presented the colors. Vinton Mayor Brad Grose delivered the invocation.
Vinton author, Florence Bogas read her poem “Symbol of Our Country”, which she composed on the evening of September 11, 2001. She was distraught not only at the carnage that day, but at the memory of all the veterans who had died before in the service of their country—“Scores and scores of stories from the heroes in their graves,” wrote Bogas in this poem, one of many patriotic verses she has penned.
Like many present, Bogas has poignant ties to the American military. Her son served in the Army in Germany during the 1980’s, her granddaughter’s husband fought in Iraq, and her brother-in-law survived the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Her parents’ American flag which is almost one hundred years old hangs in a place of honor in her home.
Her poem is displayed throughout the United States at military academies and cemeteries.
The guest speaker was 1st Sergeant Mike Honaker of the Virginia State Police, Area Commander for Pulaski and Giles Counties. He is also a United States Marine Corps veteran and an ordained minister. In September 2001, he served as an on-scene commander for several weeks at the Pentagon in the wake of 9/11.
“I thought that I would never experience another moment as profound as 9/11, but then on April 16, 2007, I was called to the campus of Virginia Tech after the shootings there,” said Honaker prior to the speech.
Honaker spoke at the ceremony on patriotism and honoring our veterans. He feels such devotion to those who have served in the armed forces that he interrupted a family vacation in Myrtle Beach to speak in Vinton.
“I told my wife that I was thinking about another beach when I agreed to speak here, the beach at Normandy on D-Day and all the lives that were sacrificed,” said Honaker.
Honaker spoke of the four simple freedoms named by President Roosevelt that make America and Americans different: the freedoms of speech and expression, the freedom to worship, our freedom from want, and our freedom from fear.
“Our freedoms are sustained by the sacrifices and the blood of patriots,” said Honaker. “I commend the younger generation of Americans who are stepping up to serve. Recruiters say that their quotas are full. They don’t have to recruit. Young men and women show up and ask to serve.”
“The best way to honor the sacrifice of our veterans and their families is to try to serve in your own way in your own community,” said Honaker.
Candye Ann Peters represented the “High Ground” Vinton-Roanoke County Veterans Monument Committee, and echoed Honaker’s sentiment.
“We should make a difference ourselves for those who now cannot, for those who sacrificed,” said Peters.
Jason Peters, capital campaign co-chair for the Vinton-Roanoke County Veterans Monument Committee, stood in for Mike Altizer, Vinton’s representative on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, who was unable to attend. Peters recognized the veterans of all branches of the service who were present and thanked them for their service to our country.