Vineyard veterans assembled Thursday morning, Nov. 11, on the edge of Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs to mark the day meant to recognize their service.
Against the backdrop of the color guards of the VFW and Dukes County Sheriff’s Office, Jo Ann Murphy, commander of the American Legion in Vineyard Haven, a veteran of the Women’s Army Corps who previously served as longtime county veterans’ services agent, told those gathered, “We really appreciate you being here today,” and thanked the veterans for their service.
Tisbury Fire Department Chaplain Stephen Harding, a former New York City Fire Department chaplain, led the veterans in prayer. Harding recognized the VFW’s longtime quartermaster and past commander, Peter Herrmann, who led Veterans Day ceremonies in the past, and who passed away in April.
“Almighty God, we’re gathered this morning to honor and give thanks [to] the men and women who have served in the nation’s armed services, our veterans. Before we proceed, Lord, we pause to remember Peter Herrmann; we ask that he now be with you. We remember his family as well.”
In his prayer, Harding underscored the sacrifices veterans have made by putting their country “before their own needs, and before the needs of their families.” Harding asked that the examples made by veterans “inspire all of us to work for the common good.”
After Mary McDonald sang the National Anthem, Murphy read from a proclamation from President Joe Biden: “On Veterans Day we honor our nation’s veterans, who have given so much to protect our freedoms and the freedom of others around the globe. They represent the highest ideals of our country. While we can never fully repay the debt we owe these heroes, we will honor their service, and provide them the care and support they deserve.”
VFW Commander Tom Norbury, a Navy veteran, laid a wreath on the Oak Bluffs World War I and World War II monument. Commander Norbury invited the Scouts present to join him in laying the wreath.
Two of the many veterans who came to the ceremony were Bill Anderson and Kevan Nichols. Each showed that the military is composed of a variety of different skilled personnel.
As previously profiled in The Times, Anderson served in the Air Force during the Cold War as a radar technician. Among the places he was posted was Adana, Turkey, where top secret U2 spy plane sorties were launched. Nichols, a past commander of the American Legion who served on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, a carrier, during the Cold War and Vietnam War, knew how to feed a lot of people — 3,000 to 4,000, by his count. Nichols served as a cook aboard what he described as “a big city at sea.”