by Larry Austin
On a day set aside to honor veterans for their service, Islanders were invited to join the town's two active veterans organizations.
During the town's Veterans Day ceremony at the Veterans Park Memorial Wall, held in atypically warm weather for the annual event, a large group of Islanders assembled to honor veterans and heard a call for continued action and volunteerism.
In her opening remarks, Town Supervisor Mary Cooke noted, "We are privileged here on Grand Island to have two very active veterans organizations," Grand Island American Legion Post No. 1346 and Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 9249.
Staff Sgt. Christian Eshelman, a member of Post No. 1346 and commander of the DeGlopper Post, said the two organizations belong to the community and the people they serve.
Eshelman, assigned to the 107th New York Air National Guard at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, noted the American Legion "is the nation's largest wartime veterans service organization committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans."
American Legion programs "strengthen the nation one community at a time," Eshelman said.
The VFW was founded by veterans of the Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection, Eshelman explained, many of whom "arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care for veterans or pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves. In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations that would become known as Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States."
The VFW' s voice has been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration's GI Bill for the 21st Century, development of a national cemetery system, and recompense to Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome, he said.
In concluding with an invitation to join the two organizations, Eshelman said the VFW and American Legion success "depends entirely on active membership, participation and volunteerism."
The honor guard of the Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 9249 performs a gun salute during Tuesday's Veterans Day ceremony at the park Memorial Wall.