Seaford 17 Veterans Day ceremony moved indoors due to weather forecast

By Lynn R. Parks

Seafords annual commemoration of Veterans Day was to be held in Kiwanis Park, the site of the citys war memorial. But when organizer Pete Bohn, himself a veteran, saw the weather forecast for Saturday, Nov. 11, he didnt think twice before deciding to move it into the auditorium at Seaford High School.

His inspiration for the change in venue was the veterans themselves.

I thought about these guys, he said, nodding in the direction of nearly a dozen World War II veterans who were seated at the front of the auditorium. Some of them were at the Battle of the Bulge, which took place in December 1944 in the Ardennes region of France, Luxembourg and Belgium in snow and freezing cold. And I thought about veterans like Norman Poole, who was at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. The Battle of Chosin Reservoir, a Korean War battle between United Nations troops and the Chinese army, was fought in temperatures that dropped to as low as -35 degrees. Poole, of Seaford, was at the Veterans Day ceremony and offered its opening and closing prayers.

Those battles were miserably cold, Bohn said. And I thought, Im not going to put these guys out in the cold again.

Several hundred people, many of them veterans, attended the ceremony. Today we join together to honor each and every American who has donned the uniform of our military, said Bohn, who served as master of ceremonies. As an American citizen, I cant think of anyplace Id rather be today.

Guest speaker was Commander Donald H. Petitmermet, who lives in Seaford and who is retired from the U.S. Navy. A graduate of Oregon State University, Petitmermet flew Sea Knight helicopters, with four rescues at sea to his credit, and ended his career as an investigator in the office of the Naval Inspector General.

I cant bring myself to say Happy Veterans Day, Petitmermet told his audience.This is not a happy kind of day.

Nor is it a day to buy a car, he added, referring to the many Veterans Day sales that go on.

Petitmermet said that the nation should always be prepared for battle. It was thought that World War I would be the worlds final conflict, he said. But despite our best intentions, it was not the war to end all wars.

He said that providing for our national defense should be the governments first priority. And he recommended that young people be given more exposure to the military. We should work with schools, to make sure that math and science that our students will need in order to function in the military are being taught, he said.

Petitmermet emphasized the importance of teaching history, something that was echoed by state Sen. Bryant Richardson and state Rep. Danny Short, both of whom spoke at the ceremony. We have a Constitution that guarantees us individual rights and we have to make sure that young people know the importance of that document and are willing to defend it, Richardson said.

Short talked about a recent visit to his Dover office by two of his grandchildren. There, they saw photographs of their ancestors in uniform, including Short, who served in the U.S. Army. They asked who they were, and then what they were doing, Short said. It really touched my soul that they were so interested. We need to tell our kids about history. If we dont, that history is lost forever.

Music for the ceremony was provided by the Seaford High School Band, which played the Star-Spangled Banner and the Armed Forces Medley. Names of Seafords war dead were read aloud by Dave Sacks, a veteran of World War II, Poole, Joe Tune, a veteran of the Vietnam War, and Jake James, whose son Rick was killed in Iraq in 2006.

We should always remember the men and women who prove that the United States of American is truly the home of the brave, today, tomorrow and always, Bohn said.

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