Honoring All Who Served: A “Snapshot” of Veterans Day 2010
Paralyzed veterans and their families, from the Greatest Generation to the latest generation who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, from sea to shining sea, came to our Nation’s capital to celebrate that special day each year when we honor those who wore the uniform: November 11, Veterans Day.
Bill Lawson, U.S. Army veteran and national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America summed-up the spirit underpinning the day: “Together, all generations of veterans form a diverse group. We represent our nation’s firm commitment to advancing freedom and democracy. (We) also form a network of leadership, support, and inspiration for each other.”
Lawson and Paralyzed Veterans executive director Homer S. Townsend started their Veterans Day celebrations by representing the organization at a special breakfast with other veterans service organization leaders at the White House, an event hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. The former long-time U.S. senator from Delaware provided the keynote speech at Arlington National Cemetery later that morning.
At Arlington, the crowd looked like a giant patchwork quilt of red, white and blue, showing off their patriotism, and in doing so, honoring all those who served. The Marine Corps Band struck up a stirring medley of familiar songs to warm the hearts of everyone on this sunny, but cold, day.
In the audience sat Chris Sullivan, a paralyzed veteran of the U.S. Army who was shot in the neck while on duty in Iraq. Sullivan appears in Paralyzed Veterans’ Mission: ABLE television and radio public service announcement campaign. He and Paralyzed Veterans’ senior vice president Al Kovach had the honor of laying the organization’s wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The onstage dignitaries included the national commander of this year’s Veterans Day national host organization the Legion of Valor, former Paralyzed Veterans staffer Col. Roger Dimsdale, (U.S. Army, Ret.). Dimsdale received the Distinguished Service Cross, our nation’s second highest military decoration for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force, for his service in Vietnam.
Across the capital at the Vietnam Wall an equally enthusiastic audience gathered to honor those men and women who served. National vice president Ken Weas, a Vietnam veteran himself, represented Paralyzed Veterans and had the honor of laying the wreath.
Back at Paralyzed Veterans national office, the organization’s reception brought together veterans and attendees from the military, veterans affairs, government, politics, and business. Paralyzed Veterans national president Bill Lawson and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addressed the assembled crowd.
For two special young people and their families, it was the finale to a memorable couple of days. In fact, attending the reception and other Veterans Day activities was part of their prize. Luke Anderson and Kaylea Bixler won this year’s Paralyzed Veterans’ Veterans Day Poster and Essay Contest. This year’s contest theme was “Veterans Day: Why I’m Grateful for Our Nations Veterans.” Luke won the grand prize for his poster entry. He is a student at Our Redeemer’s Christian School in Minot, North Dakota. Kristen earned the grand prize for her essay submission. She receives her education at home in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Bill Lawson concluded the reception with words to honor the next generation of veterans: “Let’s honor our future veterans— those who are courageously serving our nation abroad at this time.”