Honoring warfighters past and present
November 11, 2004
WIESBADEN, Germany — A ceremony Wednesday at Wiesbaden Army Airfield gave a salute to American veterans.
A Veterans Day ceremony on Minue Field honored 1st Armored Division and 1st Infantry Division troops for their fight against terror, and remembered veterans of past conflicts.
“There’s really been a turn around since the [Persian] Gulf War, where we value our military,” said Joe Mulligan, a Gulf War veteran and commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 27 in Wiesbaden.
“After Vietnam, where there were no welcome home ceremonies, [the veterans] were derided by the public, spit on ... You can really see how they’re taking care of the soldiers now.”
During the ceremony, Mulligan recalled a parade he went to as a child in Ohio. His father, a World War II veteran, marched through the parade route in his small town of Athens, while, in Mulligan’s 6-year-old mind, more people watched than the town could even hold.
He said that day — with marching veterans from past wars, men and women of the U.S. armed forces in passing cars and proud family members lining the streets — remains etched in his memory.
But, he said each year the celebration dwindled more and more until it was near extinction.
Now, as he looked across the wet parade field, with eight tanks enclosing an honor platoon, color guard and the U.S. Army Europe brass quintet, Mulligan said this Veterans Day ceremony was a “class act.”
Maj. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, 1st AD commander, followed Mulligan and explained how Veterans Day would never be the same for the men and women on the parade field who fought and now prepare to head back into harm’s way.
“In this current conflict, you are what terrorizes the terrorist,” a proud Dempsey said from under the flag pole on the Minue Parade Field. He explained that just several months earlier these troops were in the pit of the enemy sanctuary. Now, that same place is becoming a haven for the people of Iraq who want peace.
Gen. H. H. Arnold High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students presented wreaths to both divisions in honor of troops who died during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Another wreath was presented to Dempsey for the sacrifice all veterans have made.