Veterans Day in Bel Air: 'We come here to be thankful but also to remember'

Retired Brig. Gen. Wally Mueller was the first commander of the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade when it was put back on the ground by President Ronald Reagan.

Mueller was a colonel then, and was David Carey’s first commander.

“He was a great commander, role model and officer,” Carey, a retired colonel, who was the guest speaker at American Legion Post 39’s Veterans Day ceremony Sunday at Bel Air Memorial Gardens, said.

Mueller led the ceremony.

“Then Colonel Mueller had a knack for being in the wrong place at the right time,” Carey, who retired in January 2013, said, relaying a story about his men trying to make a quick stop at the post exchange for something they probably weren’t supposed to have on their mission, only to be caught by Mueller.

“Sir, thank you for your service,” Carey said.

Mueller said he considers himself lucky to be a 37-year veteran of the military.

“When you think about the number of guys, especially the combat veterans, we’ve lost, friends, everything else … We come here to be thankful but also to remember everybody, the living and those who have given their all for their country,” Mueller said.

Carey, who is not the same person as Harford District Court Judge David Carey, thanked all the veterans and their family members gathered for Sunday’s service, as well as those who weren’t there.

Veterans Day is a day to honor veterans of all wars, he said.

“One hundred years ago, the guns of the first World War fell silent,” Carey said. “It’s been 100 years since the end of that great war, and on that first Veterans Day, many thought it would be the war to end all wars, but we all know that was not to be.”

Since then, the United States has been involved in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Gulf War I, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“For the past two decades we’ve been in a constant state of turmoil around the world and we still have fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guard service members in harm’s way today,” he said. “Those serving stand on the shoulders of veterans here today.”

About 23 million veterans make up the U.S. population, about 7 percent, Carey said. Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, as of last year, slightly more than 500,000 were still alive.

Of the 5.7 million Korean War vets, 2.2 million are still alive, and of the 8 million Vietnam veterans, 2.6 million are alive, with about 2.7 million living veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, Carey said.

Organizations like the Legion, Sons of the American Legion and Auxiliary are important for veterans, as much so for the veterans as they were when the veterans were actively serving, Carey said.

When he was deployed, those organizations helped his family at home. Today, it’s not just another bar in Bel Air, he said.

“It’s a place where veterans and their families can come and share friendship, fellowship and war stories. It’s a place they can get support, hear what is going on in the world and get help with VA issues,” Carey said. “It’s a place where they spend time with their brothers and sisters in arms, to unwind and remember the past and help shape the future of our community and the future of the veterans of America.”

Chaplain Leroy Peyton, a veteran of the Army and Air Force, urged those at Sunday’s celebration, when they see a veteran, to “walk up to them and shake their hand and say God bless you and thank you for your service,” he said. “Father, we owe them a lot.”

Mueller encouraged anyone who has not visited the monument outside the Bel Air Armory on Main Street, where the names of the 47 Harford County people who died in World War I are listed, to do so.

“You just stand there and think of 100 years,” Mueller said. “We went on to other wars, conflicts as we continue today to help the world.”

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