US Armed Forces honor at two East Portland Veterans Day events

See how two events honored our veterans. If politically-incorrect speech offends you, DO NOT view this article. However, this speaker’s military service earned him the right to speak freely – he fought to defend your rights, as well …

Preparing to raise our nation’s flag, then lower it to half staff, are Jimmie Hale, retired US Marines – and Roy Powers, retired US Navy, who came from their VFW Post 4248, located in SE Portland’s Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This is a story about two Veteran’s Day celebrations: one that was small and solemn; and one that was a grand display – the Hollywood Veteran’s Day Parade. You’ll see both in this article.

On November 10, Parkview Christian Retirement Community in Gateway held their annual veterans event. “About 50 of our residents have served in the Armed Forces,” said Lou Fontana, who works with Parkview and organized the annual event.

Bugler Earl Barton, a retired warrant officer, U.S. Army and with American Legion Post #185, sounds taps.

Members of the VFW Post 4248 Color Guard fire off a 21-gun salute to fallen service men and women.

Parkview Christian Retirement Community’s Lou Fontana welcomes guests to the Veterans Remembrance Observance.

After the bugle, flag, and gun salute ceremony, about 70 residents and guests filed into the facility’s community room. Fontana introduced their speaker, Ted Wolcheck. “Ted served in Vietnam at the time when Hamburger Hill took place – one of the bloodiest battles in Vietnam.”

Guest speaker, Ted Wolcheck, currently a Chaplin at Multnomah County’s Inverness Jail, begins his message.

Tribute spoken from the heart
Wolcheck struggled to keep his composure as he began his talk.

“This is a special time for us. We get together twice a year to remember something. God gave us an intellect, and gave us our will. He gave us another faculty – memory.  I want to remember what these people in the Armed Forces have done for us.”

He talked about holding memorial services when he was in Vietnam. Typically, Wolcheck said, he read from Psalm 23.

“Today I want to use a portion of Psalm 100: ‘Acknowledge Yahweh as God. He created us; we are his, we are his people. We are the sheep of his pasture’.

“This is deeply rooted in America’s history. Today, we are remembering the veterans who served God and country – not country and God, but God and country. We were founded on principles that we believe we were created by some one. We know that that someone is a loving God.

Wolcheck says the thousands of crosses planted on Normandy’s beach tell a story of which Americans should be proud.

“I’ve often wondered what can motivate a person to suffer and die for his country.”

Wolcheck paused to regain his composure, and continued, “I’ve come to the conclusion that it goes back to July 4, 1776. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’

“Our country was founded on this concept and our Constitution was formed. Then, on December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights became part of our Constitution, the backbone of America. There are 10 amendments: Memorize them, remember them. The first one gives us freedom of speech – and to gather together. We have freedom to criticize, when we think something is wrong.

“The Second Amendment – Veteran’s Day is based on this – gives us a well-regulated military, being necessary to the security of a free State. You cannot have a free State without people who’ll defend you. Not many people realize that or seem to care about it today.

“I’m a chaplain at the Inverness Jail.  Those kids don’t know what’s going on; they have no idea what America is all about. I don’t know where we’ve gone.  I do not think they’re cowards. Get these guys out of jail, and give them two years of discipline, where they can learn to have love for their flag and their country.

“I believe the basis for the sacrifice veterans have made is based on the solid rock of the Constitution of the United States and the amendments, the Bill of Rights. No other country has them.

Americans have no reason to apologize for our nation, Wolcheck says.

“We veterans don’t apologize – like some people do now – we don’t apologize for America. What do they mean, apologizing for America?

“A prominent person recently said she never was proud of America until late last year. I realize, at that time she must’ve never stood on the beaches of Normandy and looked out over the 10,000 crosses there. When I was there, I had to move away from the people I was there with, because it was too much. I reflected what that – what those rows after rows of crosses meant.

“It meant, ‘This is America; for God and country’.  Those crosses represent the veterans of all the wars who’ve been protecting us. Can you get that picture in your mind? I can see it clearly.

“When I first got to Vietnam, there was a tragic mistake, and 70 paratroopers were killed. I was called on to do the ceremony. In a big circle, their weapons with their bayonets stuck in the ground with their well helmets on the top.  I asked myself why is this?

“We were there – many people misunderstood, including movie stars – we fight to help those who are being persecuted. You show me any other country that is there when they need help. We bailed out Europe two times. We helped Grenada. We helped Vietnam.”

Wolcheck’s message resonated with his audience members, many of them veterans.

Concluding his message, Wolcheck said. “We have lost the fervor of freedom. Freedom is not free – it costs. It costs the suffering, the dedication and separation from families.  You can’t imagine how wonderful it is that people will help other people.

“I don’t want to be politically correct. Being politically correct is a serious blunder. I want to be a God-fearing American, ready and willing to foster the freedom all of our veterans have won it for us.  God bless America, and all the veterans we remember today.”

Hollywood Veteran’s Day Parade
Although it’s out of our typical coverage area, another great Veteran’s Day event, held on November 11, is the Hollywood Booster’s Veteran’s Day Parade:

These girls, flags in hand, show their patriotic spirit while await the start of the parade.

This VFW Color Guard parades up Sandy Blvd. waving Old Glory.

This young man walked up and asked the man, “Are you a veteran?” The man said he was. “Then, I made this for you.”

By the way, if you haven’t lately, it’s never too late to thank a Veteran – but consider doing so while they’re still alive to appreciate your sentiment.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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