SHERIDAN — One by one they stood. Ever so slowly, yet proudly, as 17 names were called, these men, the youngest in his 80s and the oldest 96 years old, stood to be recognized.
These men, a small and quickly decreasing number, are the World War II veterans who were given accolades at the Honoring Veterans and Past Commanders & Past Presidents banquet Saturday night at VFW Post 5065 in Sheridan.
These veterans are among the 45,000 in Michigan who survive, according to 90 year-old Eric Halvorsen, past post commander and one of the 17.
“Tonight is a chance to recognize all veterans,” Halvorsen said.
Following a standing ovation from the 90 or so people in attendance, Halvorsen read the names of the 17 Korean War veterans, the 16 veterans of the Vietnam Conflict and the five from the Gulf Wars, each time the group receiving applause and honor.
“So that we don’t forget, we hope you tell your stories, we hope you share your history,” said Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan.
Halvorsen said that only 1 percent of the nation’s citizens are currently serving in the armed forces, and only 3 percent of living Americans have served their country.
“We have had every veteran stand up, now I would like the spouses and relatives of those veterans to stand,” said VFW State Commander Ron Devereaux. “You fought, too. The wars were not just for the soldiers, but were here, too. Without your support, we couldn’t do it.
The program also gave commendation to the past commanders and past presidents of the VFW and the Women’s Auxiliary.
“For many veterans, the battle is not over,” said Department Auxiliary Americanism Chairwoman Nanette Spaulding. “Many vets suffer with flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty sleeping and depression. These are things our soldiers face every day, things are soldiers bring home and their families face every day.”
Past District 9 Commander Wayne Ball reminded the audience that we need to take every opportunity we get to thank and honor our veterans.
“There are still 83,00 of our military who are listed as MIA, missing in action, from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam Conflict and the 1991 Gulf War,” Ball said. “We need to keep them in our memories as well.”
“And for those who have served our country, we need to remember to thank them for their dedication and loyal service to our country,“ he added.