In front of an American flag at half-staff in Veterans Park, Aberdeen officials and local veterans gathered Monday to honor those who served in the military.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, as guest speaker Army Col. Debra Daniels reminded, Aberdeen joined the rest of the country for the annual ceremonial observance of Veterans Day, based on Nov. 11, 1918, when a cease-fire ended World War I.
The American Legion's Post 128 led a memorial salute under the trees and played taps, while the Aberdeen Middle School band performed "God Bless America" and "You're a Grand Old Flag."
Daniels told the crowd of about 80 people that "no other form of ceremony was directed" at the original creation of the holiday by then-president Woodrow Wilson in 1919, but veterans created their own forms of observance.
As veterans guard the day "with silent vigilance," Daniels said, "we pause on this field and render honor to our veterans."
She said all living warriors should be recognized for "their noble, honorable and selfless works, even their bloody work."
"United we stand in continued service to our country. United we stand to honor each lifetime of service rendered," she said, urging everyone to remember the veterans and the families who await their safe return.
"It is our duty to keep this sacred trust," Daniels added.
Representatives from Post 128, VFW Post 10028, Catholic War Veterans Post 1841 and Korean War Veterans Chapter 721 placed wreaths on the city's war memorial to honor "all who made the supreme sacrifice" and veterans of the past, present and future.
City Councilman Bruce Garner read an article about an airplane flight to Los Angeles that turned "unforgettable" after passengers were informed about a dead soldier on board.
The plane was greeted by a water cannon salute, as is the practice in Los Angeles, Garner said.
"These men and women put themselves in harm's way every day and they should be respected and never forgotten," he said.
Garner was joined by his fellow council members, as well as Mayor Mike Bennett and Harford County Councilman Dick Slutzky.
The Rev. W. Lewis Geigan, of Post 128, read an anonymous poem called "A Poem Worth Reading," about the life of a fallen veteran.
"The world's a little poorer, for a veteran died today," Geigan read, becoming emotional toward the end.
"Our country is in mourning, for a veteran died today," he concluded. "God bless America."
The many veterans who came out to the park wanted to be a witness to those sacrifices. Bennett, the city's mayor, asked veterans of several wars to stand and be recognized.
Charles Bravard, of Aberdeen, noted afterward that he came because "it's my duty."
Bravard had served in the Korean War for two years and three months, ultimately spending a year at Aberdeen Proving Ground, he said.
He has been coming to the ceremony every year since he left the Army, in 1953.
"It shows respect for the veterans that made it back and also those that didn't," he said of the ceremony
Beverly Dodson, of Aberdeen, also said it was important to recognize that service.
"We shouldn't forget. It's just that simple. They should be honored," Dodson said, calling the attendance "a small price to pay considering what they have done for us."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun