On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour — the point in time that essentially ended “the war to end all wars” — Marshall County will take time to honor U.S. military veterans for their service to the nation.
Mike Miller Park’s Veteran’s Memorial Plaza will again host the county’s Veterans’ Day program at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. According to Garry Smethers of the Marshall County Veterans Support Group, Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal will serve as the master of ceremonies with Jeremy Wallace of A Soldier’s Heart Bluegrass and Muddy Waters the guest speaker.
Wallace will speak on local support for veterans. A Soldier’s Heart Bluegrass and Muddy Waters is a veteran organization that serves other veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by engaging and connecting with nature through outdoor activities like canoeing and kayaking. The overarching goal is to reduce the number of daily veteran suicides.
A Soldier’s Heart has an average of 10 veterans participate in one of their six annual retreats. This September, the group started holding retreats every six weeks.
Wednesday’s event will also include Patriot Guard Riders standing with the flag line and presentation of colors, playing of “Taps,” and 21-gun salute through the American Legion Post 236.
The Marshall County Veterans Support Group, which consists of members of every veterans organization in Marshall County, sponsors the annual event. Smethers, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1969 to 1993, said the group oversees a local van program that transports veterans to and from medical appointments in Marion, Illinois, Paducah and Mayfield, and are now also able to transport veterans to a civilian doctor as long as the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs approves.
“There are a lot of veterans here,” Smethers, who also serves as Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) commander for Kentucky, said.
Smethers, who is affiliated with American Legion, VFW, AMVETS and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), added events to recognize and remember the service of the nation’s military men and women are important to the fabric of the country’s past and future.
“If we don’t teach our young folks the importance of remembering what our veterans have done to ensure freedom in this country, eventually no one will understand,” he said. “And it’s not only veterans who made these sacrifices. Veterans’ families made tremendous sacrifices too, spouses and kids.”
A veteran’s dinner is also planned for Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the VFW Post 1084, located at 4166 Eggners Ferry Rd., in Benton.