11/06/05 — Communities show gratitude to veterans

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Communities show gratitude to veterans

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on November 6, 2005 2:14 AM

PRINCETON -- A Congressional Medal of Honor winner thanked all veterans for their service and then warned that eternal vigilance was the price that all Americans must pay to remain free in the war on terror.

"I can think of no greater honor than to thank our veterans for what they did for their nation," said Walter J. "Joe" Marm, a retired Army lieutenant colonel from Fremont.

Marm's inspirational message concluded the third annual Princeton Veterans Day celebration.

Marm recalled another Vietnam War veteran with whom he served as an infantry platoon leader. His colleague earned a Silver Star and a Purple Heart in a tense three-day battle. After service he became head of security of Morgan Stanley in New York. On Sept. 11, 2001, when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed after being struck by a hijacked airplane, Marm's friend ordered the 2,700 Morgan Stanley employees to evacuate the north tower. Then he returned inside to check on stragglers. Marm said the tower collapsed and his friend's body was never found. His widow will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"Every day in America, veterans are making a significant contribution in the community," Marm said.

He said military doctors who saved lives in battle are saving lives back home, airlines are being staffed with former military pilots, and military police and firefighters have the same jobs in civilian life.

"They don't just have job skills," Marm said, "but they bring commitment, work ethic, a sense of fair play and a willingness to act a member of a team."

Marm said at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1921, the remains of the unknown soldier from World War I were buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

"The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier serves as a reminder to all America that the price of freedom has never been cheap," Marm said.

Marm served as a honorary pallbearer for America's Vietnam War unknown. Later he noted that the remains were identified with DNA testing.

"Today we pause to honor our veterans, living and dead, past and future," he said.

Marm said America's past warriors served with distinction on Normandy beaches in France, the 38th parallel and MIG alley in Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, above Berlin, and the beaches of Guadalcanal and Inchon to secure liberty and democracy.

Marm said today's military serves in 120 nations, including Afghanistan and Iraq, and faces challenges on a daily basis.

"But they are displaying a warrior spirit and a compassion so typical of a GI," he said. "They did not march in with ideas of glory. They went to distant lands with the idea that all people have the right to live in a world free of tyranny. They fought with a conviction that some principles of life are worth fighting for."

The grand marshal for the parade, Jesse Owens Lewis, a retired Vietnam veteran, said veterans "did those things so you would have this freedom."

The master of ceremonies, Wayne Peedin, the assistant director of the N.C. Veterans Affairs Office, recognized many different service organizations and veterans, including retired Air Force Col. James "Red" Smith of Princeton, who introduced Marm.

Peedin read a proclamation from Gov. Mike Easley declaring Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.

The parade included veterans, representatives of service organizations, local politicians, entertainers, beauty queens, fire departments, rescue squads and the Princeton High School band.

The turnout on a bright, sunny fall day was believed to have been the largest in the history of the celebration.

"Our goal was to plan a family event to educate the public on what a veteran means," said Terri Sutton, who chaired the celebration committee. "I never dreamed three years ago that it would grow like this."

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 people turned out for a Veterans Day parade in Warsaw, which boasts the longest-running Veterans Day celebration in the nation.

The day's events began with a memorial service at 10 a.m. and ended with a dance at VFW Post 9810.

About 140 floats, bands, riding units and other groups took part in the festivites in Warsaw.