Veterans honored during Butler County ceremony in Hamilton

The DAV Chapter 15 Hamilton-Fairfield post provided the color guard for the annual Butler County Veterans Service Commission Veterans Day ceremony.
Caption
The DAV Chapter 15 Hamilton-Fairfield post provided the color guard for the annual Butler County Veterans Service Commission Veterans Day ceremony.

Credit: NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

All Butler County veterans got a tangible token of appreciation during the annual Butler County Veterans Service Commission Veterans Day celebration and the Vet of the Year received special accolades.

During the height of the pandemic last year only 20 people were allowed in the Colligan Lodge at Veterans Park in Hamilton, this year the place was packed with nearly three times that. New this year, each veteran was asked to stand during the playing of their service branch’s theme song — Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy — and they were given a challenge coin to honor their service.

BCVSC Service Officer Casey James served as the master of ceremonies for the event and emphasized the importance of the day that is reserved every year to recognize the sacrifice all service members have made.

“Although Armistice Day was originally created to honor the veterans of World War I, in June of 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor all American veterans,” James said. “Veterans Day is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson was the keynote speaker for the event and the Troy Republican took the opportunity to recognize how difficult this year has been for the military, because of the sudden exodus from Afghanistan that ended the 20-year war this summer.

Suicide bombers killed 13 and wounded 18 other U.S. service members as troops were withdrawing from Kabul on President Joe Biden’s orders at the end of August. The incident caused “a general sense of anger, and frustration, resentment, there’s a lot of emotions going on,” Vet Board member and Afghanistan War veteran Jim Eriksen told the Journal-News at the time. He said “now we’re all bold-faced liars” because he and thousands of others promised tribal leaders the Americans wouldn’t abandon them.

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Davidson, a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Old Guard, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the 101st Airborne Division sympathized with those sentiments saying what made matters worse was American citizens were also abandoned.

“They’ve never failed to do their duty, sometimes they’ve been failed by our political leadership,” Davidson said. “I think this Veterans Day is particularly tough in light of the exit from Afghanistan. No matter how long you felt we should have left Afghanistan, I don’t think anyone felt we should leave it the way we did. We have a saying you never leave a fallen comrade to fall to the hands of enemy and our country sadly left American citizens behind knowingly.”

Davidson said sometimes the government doesn’t always get things right, but urged those present to make sure no fellow veteran falls through the cracks, “we all know the wounds aren’t all visible so on this day I say especially be a good neighbor, love your neighbor as yourself, hear their stories, bear their burdens.”

The event was also focused on honoring this year’s Veteran of the Year U.S. Air Force Lt. Barney Landry. The vet board members presented him with a Veteran of the Year jacket and substantial plaque which the 93-year-old hefted over his head with a big grin on his face.

The Korean War veteran has been a Fairfield Twp. resident for 54 years, serving decades on the zoning board, the Butler County Transportation Improvement District — a bridge in the township is named after him — the township Veterans Memorial Committee and has a host of other community and military affiliations.

“I say thanks for the privilege of representing this county at its Veteran of the Year and may God bless everyone,” Landry told the crowd.

BCVSC Executive Director Mike Farmer told the Journal-News they received five nominations for the award and all were worthy but Landry was special.

“Mr. Landry stood out due to his entire life dedication from the time he went into college all the way through to today, he has always been giving and giving back to the communities which he lives in,” Farmer said. “That was kind of the tipping point I think.”

There were a number of county officials on hand to celebrate the day including Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Noah Powers, who appoints the members of the Vet Board; County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser, County Recorder Danny Crank and County Administrator Judi Boyko representing the county commissioners.

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