Walter Groomes points to the name of one of his friends on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Groomes served in the Americal Division from 1970-1971 and lost five friends in combat on Oct. 28, 1971. He attended the special Veterans Day ceremonies at Winters Mill High School, in part, to honor his fallen friends.
Walter Groomes points to the name of one of his friends on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Groomes served in the Americal Division from 1970-1971 and lost five friends in combat on Oct. 28, 1971. He attended the special Veterans Day ceremonies at Winters Mill High School, in part, to honor his fallen friends. (Photograph courtesy of Erin Noel Filler)

Schools set the example for all of Carroll County by commemorating Veterans Day with many thoughtful and well-planned services and programs earlier in the month.

Veterans Day is always observed on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

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It was originally called Armistice Day, in honor of the end of World War I. According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Armistice Day officially received its name in 1926 through a Congressional resolution.

Congress declared it a national holiday in 1938. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name to Veterans Day to honor veterans from all American wars.

According to his research for the Historical Society of Carroll County, historian Jay Graybeal noted that on Nov. 11, 1954, the first Armistice Day was the topic for discussion at the society's annual meeting.

Graybeal reported, "Harry J. Starr of Westminster recalled: 'Notice was received early Monday morning, November 11, 1918. Immediately bells began to ring and whistles to blow and the stores of the town were closed… A county meeting in the interest of the UNITED WAR WORK Campaign was called for the evening but it was decided to combine the two events and have a PEACE parade starting at 7:15 p.m. from Belle Grove Square …"

This year on Veterans Day, Winters Mill High School senior Juliana Howard and junior Ryan Koch led the observances in an inspiring student-organized breakfast and program.

Veterans from all across Carroll County, from World War II to the Gulf Wars, arrived bright and early for breakfast served by the students.

Vietnam veteran Walter Groomes was there. He served in the Americal Division in the sea port of Chu Lai in Quang Nam Province, about 60 miles south of Da Nang, from 1970-1971.

Groomes said that he comes to the programs at Winters Mill "out of gratitude… I really appreciate the school for what it is doing."

Walter Davis, who served in the Army from 1981 to 1985 "came to pay tribute to the other vets who paved the way before me…"

Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer, a veteran who served in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve from 1985 to 2013, said, "I come to hear the stories of the other vets. Getting out to these events makes you very appreciative of what we have."

Sheriff Jim DeWees, "came to honor the service of my dad and grandfather — and all the vets… This vets' event is super."

Alex Green of the Winters Mill Junior ROTC program spoke of her grandfather, who served in the 29th Division on D-Day, during her presentation on "What it takes" to serve in the military during a time of war. She received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Howard made a special presentation for Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, of Westminster who was killed March 3, 2006 while on assignment in Al Qaim, Iraq.

Afterward, Snyder's mom, Julie Francis said, "We are so happy to see these young adults so invested in our past, and our future through their dedication to our veterans."

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Many veterans at the program agreed with Snyder's aunt, Jane Perkins, who said that "The program was so beautiful. It was top notch."

Indeed.

Semper Fi to all our brothers and sisters in uniform, who served and died to protect our freedoms and could not attend the breakfast.

After Vietnam, our generation treated us like crap. But the current youngest generation gets it, and makes us proud.

We salute all the Carroll County students for all their heartfelt work on our behalf for Veterans Day. Thank you.

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