The American Legion Post 128 honored a fallen veteran at its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Monday with a flag flown in his honor given to his daughter.
Norman Slezak presented the American flag to Pat Peck in honor of her father Col. Thomas Hayes, who died in February at the age of 99, after Frank Coffman played Taps on the bugle.
Hayes volunteered to join the U.S. Army in July 1941 as a second lieutenant in the reserve forces. As a captain during World War II, he commanded Battery A 93rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion in Africa, Italy, southern France and Austria. He received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Commendation Medal with six clusters and an invasion Arrowhead to the European Campaign Medal. He retired after 36 years to operate his farm off Middle River Road in Greene County.
“This was a fabulous ceremony,” Peck said. “I always get very emotional with the songs and the flags because I love the military.”
Peck, who has the flag presented from her father’s burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, said she is going to give the flag from today to his second wife, Louise Hinton.
The William Monroe High School Marching Band opened the ceremony with “The National Anthem,” followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the invocation by Post 128 Chaplain Doug Fargo.
“May we never forget those who displayed the virtues of duty, honor and country to our nation to secure the blessings of life, liberty and justice for all,” Fargo said. “May our observance be a timely reminder that our freedom was purchased at a high cost and should not be taken for granted. May we never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Stanardsville Mayor Gary Lowe told the more than 100 people in attendance in front of the Greene County Courthouse that the Town of Stanardsville is celebrating its 225th year.
“To kind of put that in context, George Washington had just started his second term as president of the United States, our Commander in Chief,” Lowe said. “Stanardsville has been here to witness each and every single Commander in Chief from George Washington to Donald Trump, which I think is a pretty historic event in itself.”
Del. Rob Bell, 58th District, said this Veterans Day was a special one.
“It’s worth reviewing history because this is the 100th anniversary of the first day that we took on Nov.11, at 11 a.m.,” Bell said. “And the reason is 101 years ago today was the end of World War I. And World War I has kind of receded in history.”
Bell said sometimes people think of the veterans almost as if they had angel wings and haloes.
“And of course, they (didn’t). They were 17 and 18 year old men, the same age as the seniors at William Monroe and some of the (boy) scouts. They didn’t want to go to war, but they felt it was necessary to preserve the freedoms that we all enjoy here,” Bell said. “And so thank you all for coming out here today for us to thank our veterans for their service. When the call came, they answered and have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.”
Post 128 and Boy Scout Troop 74 members placed wreaths on the war monuments in front of the courthouse and members offered a rifle salute for veterans.