Honoring All Veterans

 

Blinded veterans and their families throughout the country participated in parades, memorial services, receptions, special meals, and educational forums and classes—all in an effort to remember the sacrifices of all veterans, both living and those who have gone before.

BVA wreath presented to soliders guarding Tomb of the Unknowns.
BVA wreath presented to soliders guarding Tomb of the Unknowns.

“This year we had the benefit of having Veterans Day on Sunday and then Veterans Day observed on Monday,” said Sean Johnson, OIF blinded veteran from Aberdeen, South Dakota. “Unless people get confused as to which day is which, this situation allows us to commemorate the day and then explain it in schools and other forums the next day.”

Sean, his wife Melissa, and her parents Jim and Linda Cameron were part of the 13-person BVA contingency attending the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Sunshine, making possible a temperature of approximately 68 degrees, drenched capacity crowd in the cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater as President Barack Obama lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11:00 a.m. sharp in commemoration of the signing of the armistice ending World War I.

VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, left, greeted BVA’s Sam Huhn at November 11 reception hosted by The Retired Enlisted Association.
VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, left, greeted BVA’s Sam Huhn at November11 reception hosted by The Retired Enlisted Association.

Following the ceremony, Sean accompanied Sam Huhn and Al Avina in the traditional VSO presentation of wreaths at the same spot while other BVA attendees and a crowd from the general public looked on.

The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) was the host organization for both the cemetery events and the subsequent reception at the cemetery’s Women in Military Service for America Memorial. TREA National President offered welcome remarks followed by Secretary Shinseki’s introduction of the Veterans Day address by President Obama.

Blinded veteran Claudia Perry, right, with uncle Rolando Fuentes and mother Marta Fuentes, in Arlington Cemetery box seats prior to 11 a.m. ceremony.
Blinded veteran Claudia Perry, right, with uncle Rolando Fuentes and mother Marta Fuentes, in Arlington Cemetery box seats prior to 11 a.m. ceremony.

“Since even before our founding, we have been blessed with an unbroken chain of patriots who have always come forward to serve,” he said. “Whenever America has come under attack, you’ve risen to her defense. Whenever our freedoms have come under assault, you’ve responded with resolve. Time and again, at home and abroad, you and your families have sacrificed to protect that powerful promise that all of us hold so dear—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

BVA contingency prepares to lay wreath with escort assistance from volunteers representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
BVA contingency prepares to lay wreath with escort assistance from volunteers representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Following the President’s speech, the United States Navy Band provided musical accompaniment for the retiring of the colors just as it had done for the earlier entry processional and ceremonial prelude.