White Hall Mayor Noel Foster and the city of White Hall welcomed Senator Tom Cotton and Congressman Bruce Westerman to the city Saturday as speakers for the annual Veterans Day celebration at the White Hall Community Center.
Also among the speakers were local veterans Glen Minor, Boe Fonataine and Colonel Kelso Horne III, commander of the Pine Bluff Arsenal. Foster issued a proclamation for Vietnam veterans, and each speaker thanked the men and women who have served and who currently serve the country.
The city of White Hall, via the City Council, issued a proclamation honoring local Vietnam veterans, and Foster asked the veterans to stand while he read it. The proclamation will be displayed in the White Hall Museum.
“Whereas, the Vietnam War was fought in Vietnam from 1959 to 1975 involving the North Vietnamese and national liberation front in conflict with the United States forces and the South Vietnamese Army; and
“Whereas, in 1965 United States combat troops composed mainly of volunteers arrived in Vietnam and by 1969 a peak of approximately 543,000 troops would be reached; and
“Whereas, on January 27, 1973, the Treaty of Paris was signed declaring the release of all American prisoners of war from North Vietnam and the withdrawal of all United States forces from South Vietnam; and
“Whereas, on March 29, 1973, the last United States military forces left Vietnam, and whereas, more than 58,000 Americans lost their lives in Vietnam and more than 300,000 soldiers were wounded; and
“Whereas, the veterans of the Vietnam War deserve our gratitude and respect for the kind effort and dedication that they have given in the service of their country, which was not afforded them on their return home,” Foster said.
Minor, post commander of the American Legion Post 232 in White Hall, and Fonataine, a local Vietnam veteran and recipient of four purple hearts, both stood before the crowd gathered on the community center lawn and spoke about the meaning and history of Veterans Day.
They also thanked the veterans for their service. Horne, while thanking vets and naming previous monumental wars, said that the current population of vets is the youngest since the Vietnam War.
“The uniform has changed many times in the last 237 years, but what has not changed is the determination and the spiritual strength of the men and women willing to serve this nation,” Horne said.
“The makeup of our veterans however has changed – almost half of those serving the military today are between 22 and 32 years old. We now have the largest population of young veterans since the Vietnam War.”
He said soldiers, veterans and families have given much, and it’s our duty to maintain the trust and honor their service.
“When young people join the Army, they join a team,” Horne said. “When they train, they do not train alone. When they deploy, they have a battle buddy, a squad, a platoon, a battalion – everything they do is with a team and for a team. Supporting our veterans requires a team approach – the Army cannot do it alone, which is why the Solider for Life program involves governmental agencies and local communities in supporting veterans’ medical and employment needs. I am confident this generation of veterans will join the remarkable men and women who serve the nation before them both in uniform and in their post-military lives.”
Westerman was the only speaker on the program who has not served in the military. He said that although the Armistice to end World War I was signed 99 years ago, it was not and will not be the last war.
“We know that World War I did not end all wars, and the scriptures tell us that right up until the end of time there will be wars and rumors of wars,” Westerman said. “As long as there are wars and as long as the United States remains free there will be (a) United States armed forces fighting for the God-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Cotton spoke in the eleventh hour, marking exactly 99 days since the ending of World War I on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour.
“Today is a holiday for all of us here in the United States, but it is not a holiday for our veterans who are still wearing the uniform because our enemies don’t take a holiday,” Cotton said.
“When I think about them – all those young men and women – I also think about the young boys and girls that we have here in the audience. It’s an important day for them as well. As George Washington said, your ability to preserve your freedom through getting the next generation of warriors to defend your country is in direct proportion with how your young people see the veterans in the previous wars being treated, and there’s no country – no country on this earth – that does a better job of honoring our veterans and setting an example for our young boys and girls, so when they grow up will want to make the choice to put on the uniform and go overseas to defend our great country.”
Immediately following the program, the Budweiser Clydesdales were on display in front of the community center courtesy of M.K. Distributors.