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Veterans Honored

Veterans Day ceremony salutes those who served

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Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Doepker, with Northeastern High School's Air Force Junior ROTC program, salutes while the honor guard presents colors during the playing of the national anthem at Sunday's Veterans Day ceremony at Waterfront Park.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Elizabeth City residents and veterans gathered for a Veterans Day ceremony on Sunday, where they honored the long and continuing legacy of those who have borne the battle.

“Never, never underestimate what your value was,” retired US Army Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Smith told veterans during the Veterans Day ceremony, which was held at Waterfront Park and hosted by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060. Smith gave the keynote speech for the ceremony, which included a VFW honor guard, and music and song offered by Pasquotank County High School band members and Northeastern High School choral students.

Smith explained how he's seen firsthand the importance of veterans, whom have guaranteed Americans freedoms that others are denied. He served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, he said, referring to operations for the Gulf War, where Americans helped fight and repel Iraqis who invaded Kuwait. He remembered seeing Kuwaitis displaced by the war, and hoping no one he knew ever faced that, he said.

He also said he served at the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea, where he reflected on how Americans have comfort and choices that North Koreans don't.

In serving overseas for the United States and its interests, Smith noted he helped play a role in protecting Americans' way of life.

“For myself, being a veteran and a part of the Army, I feel that in some way I played a part in keeping this the beautiful land and country it is today, with people who have freedom and choice,” Smith said.

Other veterans should have similar feelings, whatever branch they served in or role they played, he continued.

“The fact that you joined and served is an accomplishment in itself,” Smith said. “We use this day to recognize the service and sacrifices you have made.”

Smith also noted that American veterans are being honored throughout Europe for their valor a century ago, when they helped end World War I. US President Donald Trump and European leaders held observances of the 100-year anniversary of Armistice Day; Smith also noted the end of World War I helped Poland regain its independence, and said the nation still honors Americans for their role in freeing their nation.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Dan Serik, a lead organizer and emcee for Sunday's ceremony, also offered brief remarks. In addition to thanking veterans, he encouraged adults to teach children about veterans and patriotism, so they can help carry on American values. He also invited children attending the ceremony to gather briefly to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Pasquotank County Sheriff Randy Cartwright similarly encouraged adults to teach children about the importance of veterans and service; Cartwright noted he always tried to bring his children to Veterans Day ceremonies.

In a short interview prior to the ceremony, VFW 6060 Senior Vice Commander Scott Seddon offered his thanks to active-duty military and veterans, as well as their families. Families sacrifice as well when service members are overseas, he said, adding the VFW tries to support them as well as service members themselves.

Seddon also said the VFW helps send care boxes to soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas. Anyone interested in donating materials for those boxes should call the post, he said. Its number is 338-2828.

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