PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

November 11, 2013

Area cities join forces to salute U.S. veterans

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

— Four area cities came together Monday during a commemorative ceremony at the Robert E. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center to pay tribute to the nation’s military veterans.

Port Arthur City Manager Floyd Johnson welcomed not only those military men and women in attendance, but also elected officials and residents from other cities including Groves, Nederland and Port Neches.

“To all our veterans and those not able to be with us, welcome. Thank you for aiding us and thank you to those who have provided us safety, security and peace in the city, state and nation,” Johnson said.

Port Neches Mayor Glen Johnson, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1969 until 1973, praised veterans for their unmatched selfless acts, and legacy of lasting ordeals.

Leslie Johnson, an officer with the Port Arthur Police Department and U.S. Armed Forces veteran, urged those in attendance to remember the nation’s military men and women not only on Veterans Day, but throughout the year.

Guest speaker Capt. George Paitl, commanding officer U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit, said he was proud to be in Port Arthur, and part of the special ceremony.

“I cannot think of a better place I would rather be than here with you honoring military veterans,” Paitl said.

Though the word “veteran” is derived from Latin and means “old,” Paitl said he prefers to think of veterans as “experienced” and “seasoned.”

“Regardless of the branch of service, we owe veterans our gratitude for preserving our way of life,” he said.

Through the years, the nation’s veterans, who are away from their homes often on foreign soil, have experienced different reactions when returning home.

World Wars I and II soldiers came home as heroes. Korean Conflict veterans were all but forgotten; those from Vietnam were shamed, he said.

Paitl said he was glad to see the support Port Arthur bestows on its veterans — even naming a school after one, and showing respect for those veterans who gave their all defending freedom.

“I have never been so proud to be part of the community as when during the outpouring of support shown Anthony Maddox’ family when he was brought home to rest,” Paitl said.

He urged Americans to remember the nation’s military not only on Veterans Day, but througout the year by visiting veterans hospitals, veterans elder homes, memorial parks and cemeteries.

Port Arthur Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince urged those in attendance to remember military men and women’s families for the sacrifices they make.

“Thank you from all here. Thank your for making certain I can stand here as a free person and say ‘thank you,’” Prince said.

In addition to the nation’s veterans, first responders and Patriot Guard Riders were recognized during the service for their service.

E-mail: skoonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews