“Proud. I feel proud to be a veteran. All Veterans feel proud, they did what their country asked them to do,” Jim O’Sullivan said. He is a veteran and member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 106, which is located here in West Chester, Pa. “Veterans day means keeping the memory of people serving, so people know the sacrifices they have made.” Veterans Day was on Nov. 11, there were mixed emotions from veterans and citizens alike.”It’s a mixed emotion day,” O’Sullivan said. “There are not a lot of people who care anymore; it seems there are less people than there used to be, only veterans and people whose families serve in the armed forces.”
With the anti-war protests that have been taking place in downtown West Chester, this Veterans Day proves to be all the more controversial. O’Sullivan said there is a difference between supporting the war, and supporting our troops. “Some people feel Veterans should be out protesting for the war,” O’Sullivan said. “There is a distinction there, there is supporting the veterans and the people who have done what their country asks of them, and supporting the war.”
Veterans Day is an American holiday to celebrate military veterans, both living and deceased. It is to thank the veterans for their service and contributions to the United States’ national security.
Veterans Day itself has been celebrated since the end of WWI and was made a national holiday in 1926. It falls on Nov. 11 every year because that was the day the Armistice was signed, which signified the end of WWI. National Ceremonies for Veterans Day on Nov. 11, 2007 center around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located outside of Washington, D.C.
Some veterans worry that with the current protests, and feelings on the war, it will take away from the meaning of Veterans Day. O’Sullivan said it is not about supporting the war or agreeing with the war, rather than supporting all the troops.
“Some wars are more necessary than others, but we need to celebrate the veterans that were there to support and protect their country and do what their country asked them to do,” O’Sullivan said. “The important thing is to support the people in the military.” West Chester itself has been celebrating the holiday with the annual Veterans Day Parade, which took place on Sunday, Nov. 11. The parade was sponsored by the VFW Post 106, and participants were all veterans from the West Chester area.
The parade went from West Gay Street and continued to Borough Hall to the garden of Honor where there was a speaker, for the participants, which were veterans, and their families and other citizens of the community.
This year Pa. State Senator Andy Dinniman, was the speaker of honor and also the Parade Marshall. West Chester has been a part of the Veterans Day celebrations since the holiday first was recognized, only missing a few years during World War II.
The VFW is a local non-profit organization set up for the veterans in the area. It is actually called the Buttler, O’Connor and McCormick VFW Post, in honor of three WWII veterans from West Chester who started the Post, which is now Post 106.
The VFW’s mission is to support the youth in the area. Veterans raise funds to support youth programs in athletics, Boy Scouts and they also help other veterans. They support charities and events at veterans hospitals, like running parties there and raising funds for the local veterans. O’Sullivan said their “sole purpose is to help local youths and veterans.”
West Chester University is also involved with helping to support veterans. WCU is an accredited university of the education of veterans, which helps veterans and family members of veterans to get a college education. Schools around the area and the country do the some of the same activities to help do their part in supporting the veterans of the United States and thanking them for their service.
Lauren Whitaker is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at LW588061@wcupa.edu.