by Lisa Schauer
Steady rain fell over a somber Veterans Day program at Alderton-Dawson American Legion Post 60 in Berkeley Springs last Friday, November 11.
An undeterred crowd filled the dining hall to honor and remember the sacrifices of America’s war veterans and their families.
Placemats handmade by local student artists graced each setting, thanking active-duty and retired veterans for their service. Unit 60 Auxiliary junior members conducted a poignant POW/MIA remembrance ceremony.
Legion Commander Bob Meadows delivered welcoming remarks, expressing gratitude for the prevention of war, paraphrasing General Douglas MacArthur’s prayer for peace.
Meadows reminded those in attendance that military service takes a mental toll, as well as a physical one, with suicide rates in the military 50% higher than the civilian population. He added there are also 60,000 homeless veterans in the U.S.
Guest speaker was retired U.S. Army Colonel Joe Buche of Washington, D.C. Buche served in three wars as the leader of an infantry regimen. He’s also worked at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a research and development agency in the Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.
Colonel Buche left few dry eyes in the house after his heartfelt account of a comrade who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the war in Afghanistan.
Following a wreath ceremony representing the American Legion, POW-MIA, Purple Heart, Gold Star Mothers, American Legion Auxiliary, and DAR, Shelly Champion-Blankenship performed “God Bless the USA.”
The late Clarence Edward “Ed” Middlekauff, a 75-year member of American Legion Post 60, was recognized with his family in attendance for a dedication of the Legion’ s new canteen in his name.
Middlekauff was a decorated World War II veteran, yet he was very humble and rarely spoke of his time in the military, according to presenter Vince Shambaugh, a member of the American Legion Color Guard. Middlekauff was a technical sergeant in the U.S. Army under one of General Patton’ s infantry divisions during the war. Middlekauff earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, two Purple Heart medals awarded after the Battle of the Bulge, and the Combat Infantry Medal.
The Veterans Day program at the American Legion concluded with a gun salute, playing of Taps, and retiring of the colors by members of the Tri-State Honor Guard.
Following the program, the American Legion family of volunteers welcomed every- one to join them for a hearty lunch of soups and sandwiches, a welcome respite on a cold and rainy Veterans Day.