The words “thank you” can go a long way in making someone feel loved and appreciated. The community will have the chance to pay it forward at the 19th annual Ellis County Veterans Ceremony slated for Saturday, Nov. 9.
The live music for the event will start at 9:30 a.m., with the ceremony to start at 10 a.m. at the Waxahachie Civic Center, located at 2000 Civic Center Drive.
Co-organizer Perry Giles describes the event as “a great way to let veterans and current members of the military how important they are.”
“We are looking for current veterans all the way through World War II,” Giles said. “I have had younger veterans tell me they don’t deserve to be at something like that with all of those heroes. This is for all veterans.”
Giles notes that the community’s attendance means much to those who served in the military – and about half of those in attendance aren’t veterans
“They are just there for the veterans,” he said. “That is the thing that we are trying to get out. Come for the veterans. Bring a veteran with you if you can. If you can’t bring a veteran, be there for the veterans.”
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, Veterans Day was first known as Armistice Day to remember the end of World War I and honor its veterans and was first celebrated Nov. 11, 1938. In 1954, Congress removed the word “Armistice” and replaced it with the word “Veterans,” making Nov. 11 a day where all American veterans are honored.
The Ellis County Veterans Ceremony kicks off at 10 a.m. with a flag presentation by members of the U.S. Army and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.
The ceremony will feature both live and recorded music to honor veterans from each branch of the armed services and also to remember the wars that have been fought. Veterans will be asked to stand up at different times in the ceremony to be recognized. The ceremony also includes a wreath-laying at the front of the room conducted by members of the U.S. Army.
Some of the featured music includes “Sentimental Journey,” “You Raise Me Up,” “Danny Boy,” “Like a Rock,” “Hymn to the Fallen” and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” The 19 songs will be accompanied by a show of more than 700 photographs.
“The program officially starts at 10 a.m. but there is food and coffee in the foyer (beforehand),” Giles said. “The Classic Swing Band starts playing at 9:30 a.m., so it’s a good idea to be on the grounds at 9:30 a.m. If you come and park in the parking lot at 10’o clock you are going to miss out.
“People should not be bashful about sitting in the front,” he added. “Not everyone needs to sit in the back. I know that it is a natural human tendency to sit in the back row at church. There are always some good seats available up front.”
Navy Vietnam veteran and singer-songwriter Fletcher Jowers will sing a song about the memories he took home from the war that’s entitled, “Metal Coffins In My Dreams At Night.”
On his website, Jowers wrote about his service.
“When I left Vietnam in August of 1968, I left out of Tan Son Nhut Air Base along with three other guys aboard a military cargo plane, a C-141 Starlifter,” Jowers wrote. “We were sitting right up in front in the cargo bay on side seats that folded up to the wall of the plane’s sides.
“There were 12 coffins carrying the remains of young men who had given their lives for their country,” he continued. “I sat maybe 18 inches away from them for the 16-hour flight back to the ‘World.’ I asked myself, ‘Why am I getting to go home to my darling family and these guys are going home for their funeral?’ ” Although 50 years have passed, Jowers wrote about he still sees the coffins – and has struggled with nightmares and survivor’s guilt, noting, “But I’ve come to grips with all of it as best I can and just believe it was God;s mercy and answer to many prayers.”
The inside portion of the ceremony will conclude at about 11:30 a.m. with a benediction by Waxahachie Bible Church Pastor Bruce Zimmerman. Following the benediction, the wreath will then be placed in front of the veteran’s memorial in front of the civic center. Troopers will perform a gun salute and Ellis County Pct. 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson will play “Taps.”
Ellis County Museum event
The Ellis County Museum, located at 201 S. College St. on Waxahachie’s historic courthouse square, will host three veterans, one of whom fought in the Battle of the Bulge, who will speak to the public as part of the Veterans Day festivities downtown from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. Steve Chapman will present on service pilot Max Graham and two women will relive experiences from the Home Front (WWII). The program is presented prior to the annual WWII reenactment downtown, which begins at 3 p.m.
World War II reenactment
The annual World War II battle reenactment will take place around the MKT train depot at the intersection of College and South Rogers streets downtown at about 3:30 p.m. Reenactors will be dressed in period uniforms, use period weapons and vehicles for the Hollywood-style battle.
Various World War II displays and military camps involved with the reenactment will be located around downtown Waxahachie from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The night before, Friday, Nov. 8, College Street Pub, 210 N. College St., will host an Oktoberfest-style event.
For more information, search for Ellis County Veterans Ceremony and Waxahachie Veterans Weekend – WWII Weekend – Victory in Europe on Facebook.