Veterans, community leaders, and residents gathered outside East Williston Village Hall on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to celebrate the sacrifices made by local veterans, both living and dead for Veterans Day Monday.
“Back in May, we stood here celebrating Memorial Day, a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country,” East Williston Mayor Bonnie Parente said. “Veterans Day is different. Today we honor all of those who have served the country in war or peace, whether living or not.”
Parente introduced East Williston resident and U.S. Air Force veteran Michael Baltzer who served in the armed forces from 1984 to 2006, leaving active duty by 1992. By the time he retired from service, he was a major, she said.
“If you see a veteran, thank a veteran,” Baltzer said.
While celebrating living World War II veterans as the “greatest generation,” Baltzer said that today’s youth in the military will “earn the distinction of another great generation” as they will be the ones to carry the torch of freedom and peace.
Baltzer, who flew combat missions in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, said that as a child he noticed that many military movies he saw always centered around the archetypal “Hollywood hero.” What was missing, Baltzer said, is the vast amount of untold stories of so many other veterans.
“The U.S. military has many moving parts,” Baltzer said. “All of those who served are heroes to this nation. All veterans filled that role”
Rev. Marcus Tillery from the East Williston Community Church delivered the invocation both at the beginning and the end of the ceremony.
“Let us remember all that it was not the preacher who guarantees freedom of religion. It is not the reporter that guarantees freedom of the press,” Tillery said. “It is those down here in their uniforms.”
“This is the land of the free because of the brave,” he continued