Now is a good time to reflect on veterans’ service and goodwill during Christmas season

Posted 17 December 2018 at 12:58 pm


Instead of my usual pro-wind speech, this is what I shared at the Dec. 13, 2018 Town Board meeting:

Tonight I would like to speak to two points. With your permission Jim (Simon – Town Supervisor), I would like to address everyone in the hall, not just the Town Board. Again tonight finds us in the Christmas Season.

We opened the meeting tonight with the Pledge of Allegiance to this beautiful flag! There were differences of opinions during the meeting and throughout the year. The reason we can do these things at town, state, and national levels is because of one thing, our military.

This month we lost a past commander in chief and a true World War II hero. President George Herbert Walker Bush was a true patriot. The four days of TV coverage of his funeral was a great history lesson.

At age 17 Mr. Bush signed up for service in the U.S. Navy. At the age of 18 he became the youngest Navy Pilot. He flew 58 bombing missions over Japan, being shot down once and was rescued at sea.

My father also signed up and was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corp which is known as the U.S. Air Force today. Dad was a tail gunner on a B29 Bomber stationed in Guam. He too, flew many nighttime missions over Japan. He told me when they returned to their base in Guam in the early morning, they would go to the Chow Hall and pray that all their fellow airmen would return safely. Like most World War II vets, dad didn’t talk much about the war. We also lost many Army and Marines in Germany, France and the rest of Europe.

Because many young men and women signed up for military duty and the country backed them, we won the war. Shortly before dad’s passing I took him to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. Looking up at the cut-away of the B29 it’s hard to believe how these men carried out their missions in this equipment. One of my dad’s favorite quotes was, “better to fight over there than here at home.”

One of the most moving moments of the Bush funeral coverage was when he was in the Capitol Rotunda. Former Senator Bob Dole was rolled in, in his wheel chair to pay his last respects.  They stopped at the head of the casket and the man pushing the wheel chair stopped and helped Senator Dole stand up so he could salute President Bush. To see that was a reminder of the meaning of “World War II Heroes.” If these men hadn’t fought the war that they did, maybe we would be speaking German or Japanese tonight. That’s a scary thought.

During the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s in order to fill the military ranks, the government used the draft. During that time we fought the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Desert Storm.

Then it happened. In 2001 we were attacked on our home soil, so we ending up fighting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. What I think is so great is that so many people, me included, questioned our younger generation. One thing we must remember is that today’s military is the strongest fighting force in the world and most importantly, it’s all volunteers. To me that says a lot about our younger generation.

I would like to ask everyone here, not just at Christmas time, but all year long if you see a veteran please extend your hand and say, “Thanks for your service.” Without our veterans we wouldn’t have all the freedoms we have today. Having said that, would all of the veterans here tonight, please stand so we can say “Thank you.”

My second point is the same as last year. There are 75 beautifully decorated trees in the village park. Again, I’m partial to two, the tree decorated by Save Ontario Shores and the tree decorated Lighthouse Wind. To me this shows that beside all of our differences we can have something in common. We all like to celebrate Christmas. I would ask that we remember the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We can all agree that things have gotten pretty contentious this year!

At this year’s end and during the Christmas season, I would ask everyone to take a deep breath, take a step back, and for the next month or two enjoy this Christmas season.

Howard Pierce