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Thursday, November 11, 2010

American Legion ceremony honors Veterans in Annandale

“On behalf of the men and women of our Armed Forces, I am proud to salute our veterans on this special day,” Army Col. Ilean Keltz said at a Veterans Day ceremony in Annandale today. “May your example of service and sacrifice continue to inspire us all, proliferate throughout our community, and may we always treasure the gift of freedom you have fought for and, in some cases, your comrades in arms have died to preserve.”

Members of Annandale’s American Legion Bicentennial Post 1976 honored America’s veterans at a moving ceremony at the Annandale cannon at Columbia Pike and Backlick Road. Earlier this morning, post members placed flags on the graves of veterans at the cemetery next to the Annandale United Methodist Church.

In the keynote address, Keltz told the group assembled at the cannon, “Thank you for everything you have done for his nation, and continue to do for veterans.” She says members of Post 1976 “include a Pearl Harbor survivor, sailors who served the battle ship New Jersey; they include Korean war veterans, and many Vietnam vets, guys like Randy Newman, who spent two and a half-years straight in Vietnam as a crew chief/door gunner on a Huey UH1C helicopter providing ground support and fires to infantry assaults—shot down 20 plus times, Purple Heart recipient, and hero.”

Keltz recalled her first assignment overseas in the Army when the wall in Berlin was taken down, “and I watched firsthand how East and West Germany migrated into one nation, knowing that our American forces were a big part in ending the Cold War.” She later helped distribute food, water, and other aid during the drought in Somalia and observed the United States’s mission shift from a humanitarian to a military operation.

“I was surprised to see how much other nations counted on us for logistics support, military capability, and leadership. As a woman, I was so proud to be a part of the American military and surprised to see that other militaries did not have their women in positions of responsibility like ours did,” Keltz says. “Whether right or wrong, the world counts on America to be there to defend our partner nations in times of trouble and distress.”
Noting that one-third of America’s adult homeless population are veterans, and more than 15 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed, Keltz urged the public to hire veterans and lobby Congress to support veterans programs. “Veterans Day is dedicated to the extraordinary Americans who protected our freedom in years past and to those who protect it today,” she says. They represent the very best our nation has to offer. They are patriots. They are heroes.”

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