By Debbie Adams
Cadets from the William Byrd High School Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC)
honored veterans at Brandon Oaks in a Veterans Day program on Nov. 10. The cadets presented the colors, performed the national anthem, presented the history of Veterans Day, and conducted a Flag Folding Ceremony during the event.
In opening the program, Brandon Oaks Arts and Education Director Tresa Walko thanked “all
those among us who, despite the risk and sacrifice, raised their hand to serve and defend this
beautiful country – our veterans, active-duty service members, guardsmen, and reservists. Your
service has helped keep our country and its citizens safe and free.”
She asked for a moment of silence “to remember and honor the fallen, prisoners of war, those
missing in action and those who have served and are serving this great nation’s armed services
today and to acknowledge those families of service members and veterans who help shoulder the
weight of war and the burdens of sacrifice. To the mothers, fathers, spouses and children of our
military men and women – thank you. Your love, support and resilience are the backbone of this
nation, and that must never be forgotten.”
Walko introduced the guest speaker of the day, orthopedic surgeon Dr. George Henning, who
served as a captain in the U.S. Medical Corps during the Vietnam era. He received the Army
Commendation Medal in 1966 and told the audience that he owed much to the Army – a life-
changing experience. He also spoke of the destructiveness and medical trauma of war, especially given the advancement in weapons. Many of the veterans he was speaking to at Brandon Oaks
were also of the Vietnam era.
Henning is a native of Roanoke and a graduate of VMI. He was a member of the ROTC at VMI
and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Henning called the roll of residents of Brandon Oaks who served in the different branches of the
military and asked them to stand, if possible.
Walko then introduced the WBHS cadets and their instructor, Senior Chief David Perrin, USN
(retired). Cadets participating in the program included Units Cadet Senior Chief Jamey
Umberger and Cadets Noah Nicely, Alexis Cook, Beth McFalls, Mason Truslow, Jordan Davila,
Leighann Wood, Alexis Short, Lenorah Garcia, Trevor Robinson, Mason Perdue, and Charles
Umberger continued the ceremony by thanking the veterans present for their service and by
reading the history of Veterans Day.
“When Francis Scott Key wrote ‘Star Spangled Banner’ almost 200 years ago, he called
America, ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave,’” said Umberger. “Those words are as
true today as they were then.
“Throughout this nation’s history, America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast
guardsmen have bravely answered the call to defend our freedom, to aid our friends and allies,
and to turn back aggressors. We can never fully repay our debt of gratitude to the more than
650,000 American service members who died in battle or the 1.4 million who were wounded.
We can, however, recognize and thank the 25 million veterans still living today.
“These words are inscribed on the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., ‘Our nation
honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a
people they never met.’ Those words apply equally to many of our World War I, World War II,
Vietnam War, and Gulf War veterans.
“They apply to today’s active-duty service members – tomorrow’s veterans – who are helping
maintain peace throughout the world.
“This afternoon, on behalf of all the cadets, it is our privilege to say, ‘thank you’ and to let you
know that we appreciate you for your service and honor you for your sacrifices. The price of
freedom is high. We cannot afford to forget those willing to pay it.”
Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day) is a federal holiday in the United States
observed annually on Nov. 11 for honoring military veterans who served in the United States
Armed Forces. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th
day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. Armistice
Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
Veterans Day is observed on Nov. 11 no matter which day of the week it falls on. It is a day
which honors America’s veterans for their patriotism and willingness to serve and sacrifice for
the common good.
Cadets McFalls, Truslow, and Davila conducted the Flag Folding Ceremony, which involves
folding the flag 13 times. The first fold honors the 13 original colonies and our forefathers; the
second fold, the men who died in the War for Independence; the third fold, the men who fell in
the War of 1812; the fourth fold, the brave soldiers on both sides of the Civil War; the fifth fold,
those who shed their blood in the Great War; the sixth fold, those who died in World War II; the
seventh fold, the First Marine Division in Korea; the eighth fold, those who died in Vietnam; the
ninth fold, those who lost their lives on Sept. 11; the 10th fold, for emergency personnel and first
responders; the 11th fold for God, parents, and families; the 12th fold, for men and women of the
Armed Forces, the Arsenal of Democracy, and the Hammer of Freedom; the 13th fold, for
freedom, because without freedom there is no honor.
“Without honor, we are not Americans,” Davila said. “When the flag is completely folded, it
takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, reminding us of soldiers who served under George
Washington and Captain John Paul Jones who were faithfully followed by their comrades and
shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States…preserving for us the rights, privileges, and
freedoms we enjoy today.”