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By Ed Moreth 

'May none be forgotten'

Plains VFW holds ceremony of remembrance


November 18, 2021

Ed Moreth

HONORING VETS – Air Force veteran Matt Wachsmuth salutes after placing a wreath in Plains Cemetery for the annual Veterans Day observance.

by Ed Moreth

It was a cold and snowy morning, but that didn't stop the members of VFW Post 3596 from paying tribute to military veterans, past and present, in a ceremony at Plains Cemetery on Thursday, Veterans Day.

"We gather here today at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 2021 to place this wreath in remembrance of those who have served this great nation before us, to honor those who now serve this great nation, and to salute those who stand by them in times of peace and in times of war," said Ron Kilbury, post commander of VFW Post 3596 at Plains at the ceremony. It was at 11 a.m. on November 11 in 1918 that the Great War - later called World War I - officially ended. The post initially planned to conduct the ceremony at 11 a.m., but moved it an hour earlier because they had a veteran funeral to attend.

"May none ever be forgotten and may God bless this great nation," continued Kilbury, who served in the Navy for six years and the Army for 20 years, retiring in 2010. He's been the post commander for the past three years. Immediately following Kilbury's remarks, Matt Wachsmuth, the post's senior vice commander, placed a wreath at the foot of the flagpole, followed by a moment of silence. 

Nine members from VFW Post 3596 were on hand to conduct the ceremony, but the number of the general public in attendance was greatly reduced from last year's 22 community members, which might have been because of the cold weather or because it was a work day. The two community members who attended the ceremony were Cindy Gray, whose late husband, Velmer, was a Vietnam War veteran, and Marion Joplin, whose late husband, Wesley, was a World War II veteran.

The brief ceremony was held at the site at the cemetery where numerous military gravesites are located, including 20 World War I vets, the same place where the VFW does the Memorial Day ceremony.

"It's important for everyone to understand the sacrifices that hold everyone together," said 30-year-old Hunter Fielders of Plains, who also wore his Army uniform for the event. Fielders and his parents, Shawn and Charee Fielders, recited the Declaration of Independence on July 4 at a ceremony in Plains. "Everyone in the community should come together to honor those who have fallen and those who still serve," said Fielders, who was in the Army from 2010 to 2013 as part of the Airborne Infantry and has 200 parachute jumps under his belt.

The 51-year-old Wachsmuth was wearing his Air Force camouflage battle dress uniform. It was Wachsmuth's idea for the post to hold a Veterans Day observance last year. "I consider it a great honor to do this," said Wachsmuth, who left the Air Force after nine years as an aircraft fuel systems technician. "We are the most recent generation in a long line of brave and courageous Americans who laid it on the line for this nation and it's an honor to take a moment to remember that," added Wachsmuth.

The post routinely holds a Memorial Day tribute in May, but last year was the first time it did a Veterans Day ceremony, which was originally called Armistice Day to honor those who fought in the Great War, also known as "the war to end all wars."

World War I began in 1914 after Gavrillo Princip assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie in Sarajevo. The conflict started with just two nations, but quickly escalated to involve more than 30 countries, though the United States didn't get into the war until 1917. In 1926, Congress made Nov. 11 an official holiday, calling it Armistice Day to honor veterans of the Great War. It was changed to Veterans Day in 1954. While Memorial Day was established to honor those military members who perished serving their country, Veterans Day was created to pay tribute to all U.S. military men and women, dead or alive.

On Saturday, the VFW in Plains held its 84th anniversary by treating the public to a free lasagna dinner cooked by members of the Post 3596 Auxiliary. The post also held a silent auction, numerous drawings and had musical entertainment by Craig Barton of Hot Springs and Brett Barber of Paradise. Barton won the top drawing prize, a Remington 700 barrel .270 Winchester with a 3-9X40 scope valued at about $400. Barb Steward of Plains won a Tribute Henry Golden Boy .22LR valued at $750.

Of the one hundred and twenty-three people attending the celebration, 40 were veterans, according to post quartermaster and adjutant Heather Allen. The post raised $525 in its silent auction, with a pair of Grizzly/Bobcat football tickets fetching $225. They gave away more than 150 items, from Chapstick to a beer keg grill and almost 30 bottles of wine and vermouth. Any items that weren't given away went to the Auxiliary's Military Care Package program, which this year will take place Monday. The VFW was chartered on May 8, 1937. 

"We changed how we issued the drawing tickets and had everyone put their names on them, so no one could collect tickets from people leaving early to have multiple chances to win," said Allen, who added that three-fourths of the attendees stayed until midnight, the time of the drawing. 

Allen said the post appreciates the local businesses and individuals that donated the prizes. "We couldn't raise the money we do for our scholarship and emergency relief funds without their support," she said. The post still has a raffle for a $1,000 meat package that will be drawn January 29. Tickets can be purchased at the VFW.


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