At American Legion Post 803 in Southold, Nov. 11 is a day to honor all of America’s veterans, in particular those who came to Monday’s ceremony at the Legion Post and were given seats of honor in front of the podium.
“We are honored to be in the presence of our veterans, who have done so very much for us and our country,” said Charles Sanders, a Marine veteran and the post commander. “This is a day of celebration and remembrance.”
Monday’s ceremony was in honor of Veterans Day, a national holiday celebrated every Nov. 11 as a way of honoring America’s veterans of all wars. The national holiday began as Armistice Day, to mark the end of World War I — which formally ended at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Mr. Sanders, in touch with history, began the ceremony at 11 a.m. sharp.
“We have our freedom,” he told the crowd, after an honor guard brought the colors onto the grounds to salutes and applause from the crowd. “Why? Because of our veterans.”
He noted last week’s elections, and pointed out that, in America, elections are marked by people voting and not fighting in the streets as in other parts of the world. He pointed out that, currently, less than 1% of the population has served in the military, adding that those who did serve represent a unique group of Americans who put service ahead of self.
Mr. Sanders pointed out that the American Legion, formed in 1919, is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Other speakers included Town Board members Bill Ruland and Jill Doherty, and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski.
One of those who attended Monday’s ceremony was Joseph St. Pierre of Southold, who wiped tears from his eyes as Mr. Sanders noted the service of Vietnam War veterans.
“I can get emotional on this day,” he said quietly. He said he served with the Marines in Vietnam in 1965, and noted that many Vietnam vets were greeted with protesters when they returned home. Referring to those Americans who died in combat, he spoke of the number — 58,220 — and said they should never be forgotten.
“I am very glad I came today,” he said.
See more photos below by Kate Nalepinski: