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Veterans Day recognition ceremony and lunch took place today at Hempstead Hall

Veterans and other attendees at the Veterans Day luncheon in Hempstead Hall watch a video salute from students at Hope Academy of Public Service Friday.

At Hempstead Hall today, starting just before 11 a.m., a Veterans Day salute and lunch took place.

Bob Willis was the host for a program that led off with Willis’ welcome, an invocation by Daniel Bramlett, a speech on the history of Armistice and then Veterans Day, and a posting of the colors by two members of Boy Scouts Troop 5. Following a Pledge of Allegiance led by students of the Education Accelerated by Service and Technology program and a rousing National Anthem performed by Arnetta Bradford, a lunch of catfish, chicken and all the trimmings was served by EAST students and the Lions Club.

Following a 45-minute break to eat, Willis took the podium again to lead a part of the program that asked that veterans of particular branches of service stand when their respective anthems were played. Strains of “Wild Blue Yonder,” “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” “Anchors Aweigh” and “The Marines’ Hymn” were played as veterans in the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines stood.

After this, the veterans of specific wars were recognized. No World War II veterans were present, but veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars were, as were several from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gold Star Families recognized included the families of Staff Sergeant Carlo Montel Robinson, Staff Sergeant Michael Gabriel Smith, First Sergeant First Class Sergeant Ricardo DeYoung, Sergeant Thomas Chad Rosenbaum.

Paul Henley introduced the featured speaker: “I’m pleased to have with us today, a friend and fellow volunteer force for the garden reserve, Lieutenant Colonel, retired Anderson Neal, who has 30 years of service for the Air National Guard. And he’s going to bring us up to date and give us a better understanding.”

“Veterans are part of a unique American collective. Whenever America or her interests are threatened, brave men and women from across this great nation have risen to her defense. Whenever our freedoms have come under assault, we’ve responded with strength and purpose and resolve. Each of our veterans along with their families sacrificed and served a sacred pact between warrior and society that all of us hold dear.”

Neal observed that since WWII, the percentage of Americans serving in America’s wars has declined from 11 percent to half of one percent from the year 2001. “Over time, you have shown that more and more of the burden and it is only going to get worse,” Neal said.

After explaining the history of Veterans Day as a federal holiday, including its origins in Armistice Day, he also described the differences among Veterans Day, Memorial Day (for those who died while serving) and Armed Forces Days (for those currently serving).  Neal concluded by asking those present who were not veterans to ask their relatives and friends who are to tell their stories.

The program ended with the the giving away of door prizes according to ticket numbers, playing of taps on trumpet, the closing of the colors and Bob Willis announcing that next year’s luncheon would not be in conflict timewise with the other Veterans Day events taking place in Hope.

He ended by thanking all those who made the event possible. These included the five major civic clubs (Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, Civitan and Evening Lions), Hope Academy of Public Service including EAST students, Tyson Foods, Hope Family Career Community Leaders of America, Boys Scouts Troop 5 and several individuals, including Terrie James, Staff Chair at University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Research and Extension, Hempstead County; Chancellor Christine Holt of UAHT, EAST teacher Allison Rowe and Bonnie Raff.

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