Veterans honored at Manila ceremony
Veterans were honored at the annual Manila Veteran's Day ceremony held Sunday afternoon at the Herman Davis Monument.
The opening prayer and welcome were given by Ray Dill of Manila. Dill, a Vietnam veteran, thanked all of the veterans and their families for participating in the program.
Serving as chairman of the event was Donna Jackson assisted by Sherry Brunch Pratt, secretary of the Ladies' Auxiliary of Herman Davis Post 197. Lauren McDowell and Jessica Warrenfells, Manila Scout leaders, and their troops presented the Colors for the ceremony.
Guest speaker was Dennis Seyler, an Army veteran who served during the Gulf War. Seyler received many medals including the Bronze Star.
Seyler said he moved to Manila when his dad was stationed at the Blytheville Air Force Base. His dad was involved in World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War.
Seyler said he joined the Army soon after his graduation from Manila High School.
He expressed his gratitude for his service as an enlisted soldier and officer while serving 15 years in the military.
"Serving my country afforded me a college degree from Arkansas State University," Seyler said. "Upon graduation from the ROTC program, I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and reentered the service.
"Veterans Day brings to mind the word patriotism. Patriotism has grown in a positive way. When I joined the military at the end of Vietnam era, the veterans were not treated well. Thank goodness they are treated better today. They are treated with the respect they deserve."
He recalled his early days in the military when they were moving equipment across Texas to be shipped to the Gulf. "People were lined up on the overpasses with signs of support for us. When we returned, yellow ribbons were tied on the trees."
"Patriotism continues to grow," Seyler said. "My wife said she was watching our grandchildren at the playground and she saw a young boy who placed his hand over his heart and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I am glad to live in a place where our young people are taught respect for our flag and our country. Veterans have made sacrifices through the years so we can enjoy freedom. Countless soldiers have lost their lives and their limbs, and suffered from post traumatic stress. They miss holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries for the cause of our country. I am thankful for modern technology that helps servicemen keep in touch with their families."
Seyler expressed his pride in serving his country and his pride in the American Flag.
"When I was in the Gulf War going up to the air war, our chaplains were not allowed to wear their crosses at that time," Seyler said. "When the war started, the crosses came back on their hats. I was glad to see our government come to the agreement. In 1992 I participated in Southern Watch in Kuwait."
He said they were getting the equipment up and running from a UN post to Kuwait and as the convoy was traveling through the citizens of Kuwait did not know it was America and they were frightened.
"From then on our American convoys displayed the American Flag on the front and rear vehicles," Seyler said. "Our flag represented freedom to them and it represents freedom to us. When you see the American Flag, I hope you remember the sacrifices made by our veterans. May God bless America and may God bless our veterans."
J.D. Forsythe, a World War II and POW veteran, read the names of the deceased veterans from Manila in 2012. Forsythe has resided in California for many years but returns home to Manila for the Veteran's Day ceremony each year.
"I am sorry this has to be done but I'm honored to be asked," Forsythe said.
The names were read followed by a moment of silence. They are Larry Lynn Dildy, Authur Bunch, Bobby Johnson Jr., Billy Price Jr., Bobby Misner, Freeman Junior Malloy, Steven Delbridge, J.B Brown, Jimmy White, and Jimmy Sherwood.
Forsythe gave a special presentation to Donna Jackson for the military room of the Manila Museum. He presented her with his prisoner of war dog tags he has carried in his pocket for over 69 years.
"As a prisoner of war you were just a number," Forsythe said. "I think the museum is where it belongs."
Herman Davis Post 197 Commander Grady Willmuth thanked everyone who participated and attended the ceremony. He invited them to the Depot for a reception. He encouraged all veterans to consider being part of the American Legion. He expressed his appreciation to the Women's Auxiliary and Sons of Veterans who are taking a part in rebuilding Post 197.
"We need your help to reach the veterans and keep the Post going," Willmuth said.
A reception was held at the Manila Depot for the veterans and guests. Terry Selby had a display of military memorabilia for everyone to view. The Manila Museum was open for tours giving veterans and their families the opportunity to tour the military room where many photos, uniforms, medals, letters, and military items belonging to local veterans are on display.