Honoring service

By Sam Major
Posted 11/16/22

Despite chilly weather, a small crowd made its way to downtown Mineola Saturday morning for the annual Veterans Day Parade.

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Honoring service


Despite chilly weather, a small crowd made its way to downtown Mineola Saturday morning for the annual Veterans Day Parade.

The procession was led by Mineola Police Chief Chuck Bittner, followed closely by color bearers from Mineola Boy Scout Troop 385. Patriotic onlookers got to see plenty of red, white and blue, plus period clothed patriots from the Sons- and the Daughters- of the American Revolution. They also heard excellent military music from the high school marching bands of Mineola and Alba-Golden and the caboose of fire trucks’ sirens wailing to bring up the rear.

Shortly after, most meandered south to the gazebo for a program.

Mineola Mayor Jayne Lankford was pleased to welcome everyone, “You know, Mineola does our veterans right, and to honor them in this way is outstanding. Thank you veterans.”

After sharing some history, the mayor concluded, “On behalf of Mineola, thank you for coming and honoring these wonderful veterans. They sign up ready to give their lives for our country. God bless them.”

Pct. 2 Constable Kelly Smith stated, “Our missions are many and our compassion to serve is vast for our Marine Corp League and our Veterans’ Service.” He detailed the numerous ways they organizations support local veterans, including a new way they will honor veterans further at Roselawn Cemetery with the Wreaths Across America program.

Jim Kuykendall, president of the Texas Society of Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), addressed the gathered folks.

Kuykendall said, “It's good to be home…I've been away forever…I’m glad to be able to call you my hometown.”

He described SAR as a "non-partisan men's service organization dedicated to patriotism, education and teaching the history of the American revolution.

“We're committed to remembering our past. We honor those who served and assisted in the colonies during the Revolutionary War. We promote the core values of protecting the Constitution. We help shape young minds by educating the youth about the Constitution and those who developed the American ideals and traditions.”

Kuykendall pointed to Veterans Day as, “the day we have set aside to honor veterans and service people. It is by their service and sacrifices that we can enjoy the freedoms that we all have here today.

“We must not forget the sacrifices – from the first shot of Bunker Hill in 1775 until the present day. We need to always remember our veterans.”

He went on to say, “Know this…all that I am able to be is because of the grace of God and the service and sacrifice of our veterans and our military people. Because of this I…wrap myself in the warmth of that freedom and go about my daily life and make choice – because of them – unafraid. Because of that, we sleep with a blanket of security around us because we know that there really is somebody staying guard and protecting our freedom.”

The Texan SAR president turned to a founding father, “Thomas Jefferson quoted that, 'the tree of liberty must be watered periodically by the blood of tyrants and patriots,' and while that may be true, I believe that even more-so it must be nurtured by the sweat and the tears of all Americans. It cannot be left strictly up to our service people to do. It is up to all of us. Freedom is a never-ending effort that absolutely must start with our young people and be a lifelong endeavor.”

One of those young people, Sydney Van Cleave, has already taken that lesson to heart. The Mineola High School senior won the Wood County school essay contest with words focused on the value of service, as exhibited by veterans, and the importance for everyone to make it an active part of their lives.

Reading her speech for those assembled, Van Cleave stated, "Often when the word service is presented, we think of actions and ideas that are grand, heroic actions, earth shattering feats and movements that change the world. However, we do not all sign up to serve our country in the military, but we can all choose to live our lives in a way that does serve others."

She expounded on how students and professionals alike can have a servant's heart, saying, "Service starts at home simply through loving your families, friends, nation and community. These simple acts of service are ways to show appreciation for the blessings we have."

"When it comes to serving our country," Van Cleave continued, "not everything has to look like the sacrifice of a veteran. It is our everyday actions, showing appreciation, and a willingness to help make a difference."

Following the ceremony, several Marine Corp League members along with a few others exhibited just what Van Cleave had mentioned – a servant’s heart – by using many hands to make light work of packing the folding chairs put out for onlookers back into a trailer.