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The Waxahachie Senior Activity Center is asking for the community’s help in recognizing veterans for their service with a pinning ceremony slated for 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11.

In particular, senior center director Jeanee Smiles said they are looking to have the assistance of younger veterans in honoring the older veterans during the ceremony. She noted the special day provides an opportunity for different generations of people to connect and share a moment that goes above and beyond the words, thank you.

“Veterans Day is more than just a day for me,” Smiles said. “My dad was a vet and we have a lot of vets here (at the center). For what they did for us, a simple thank you is not enough.”

Veterans Day was originally established by Congress in 1938 as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I. The word armistice was changed to veterans in 1954 so as to honor all American veterans of all wars.

The senior center has partnered with Bristol Hospice in hosting the pinning ceremony and a meal for veterans. During the ceremony, a volunteer will pin a small round flag pin on the collar of each veteran present to recognize him or her for their service. The inscription on the pin reads, “Thank you for your service. Bristol Hospice.”

Bristol Hospice liaison Crystal Underwood shared Smiles’ thoughts about the importance of the day and its lasting impact. She described the connection between the veteran volunteer and the veteran receiving the pin as “very moving.”

“Veterans Day has always been a celebration and a way to give back as a way to say thank you to our veterans,” Underwood said. “Some of the residents of the nursing homes are non-verbal but, when they had our veteran volunteer speak with them, they were able to come back and speak with them. It was very heartwarming and sent goosebumps and chills down my body. It is just amazing.

“My grandfather was in World War II and my dad was in Vietnam,” she said. “We don’t really get to see all that goes on and takes place over there. It is just a day to give thanks for what they have done for our country and why we are free today.”

One of the younger veterans taking part in the event is Kyle Mustin, who served with the U.S. Army overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Receiving a thank you from a fellow veteran means even more because of the similar experiences each faced, he said. 

“We are kind of at the end of the ropes with the World War II generation and there is not a lot of opportunities to thank those guys,” he said. “They are all getting up there in age.

“Just letting them know that I get it,” he said of the interaction with the older veterans. “When we deal with civilians, they can say they relate and thank us for our service but I think it is important for the veterans to get together to let each other know we are appreciative of the guys to the right and left.

“The service part is one battle but there is a whole other battle when you get out and transition into civilian life,” Mustin said. “So, I think that it is good for vets to be together on that front as well. It is up to the younger vets to carry on the legacy. It is kind of our last opportunity to pay it forward to these World War II guys. When we are up there in our elder years, we are going to want the younger vets to try and help out as well. I look forward to helping those guys and helping out where we can.”

Veterans who wish to attend the meal and the ceremony are asked to contact the Waxahachie Senior Activity before Friday, Nov. 1. Calling ahead helps the center’s plans to have enough food for everyone with a menu of brazed short ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, cake and ice cream.

Assisted living centers are invited to bring their veterans to the event provided they have a caregiver with them. 

Both veteran and non-veteran volunteers are needed to help with the event. People who don’t have the time to volunteer can make a monetary donation to go toward the meal costs.

The Waxahachie Senior Activity Center is located at 122 Park Hills Drive in Waxahachie; contact center staff at 469-309-4280.

Questions about the event can be emailed to smiles at jsmiles@waxahachie.com.

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