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HomeNewsArchivesFrom Armistice Day to Veterans Day, St. John Remembers

From Armistice Day to Veterans Day, St. John Remembers

Nov. 11, 2008 — Andrew Yellen Sr., 79, remembers when Veterans Day was called Armistice Day, a day set aside to commemorate the end of the fighting in World War I, and he remembers the poems and songs that date to that long-ago war.
"Nights are long since you've been away," he sang, waiting Tuesday in his wheelchair for St. John's annual Veterans Day Parade to begin.
He was singing "My Buddy," but he also knew the words to the poem "In Flanders Fields," written in 1915 by Canadian Lt. Col John McCrae following the terrible battle in the French town of Ypres.
Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to honor veterans of all wars.
Yellen, a patrol plane commander during the Korean War and a member of Viggo E. Sewer Post 131 of the American Legion, marched in a parade that ran from the tennis courts to the V.I. National Park ballfield. He marched along with other American Legion members, AARP members, the Eudora Kean High School Junior ROTC and one lone active-duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard.
"Thank you," yelled one woman as the parade passed.
Others, standing in front of Mongoose Junction shopping center, applauded as the parade neared the ballfield.
Jerry Runyon, commander of Post 131, said Americans owe the freedom of the press, freedom of religion and the right to vote to those who fought for those freedoms.
"We owe them more than we can ever give them," he said.
About 50 people gathered at the ballfield for a ceremony remembering those serving in the nation's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those who served in the military during peace and war.
"We also have to think of the sacrifices made by the dependents and the children," Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis said in his remarks at the ceremony.
Francis, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran, said he marched in the parade and spoke at the ceremony because he was invited seven months ago.
"And St. John is very special to me because I spent a lot of time at Boy Scout camp in Calabash Boom," he said.
The parade and ceremony were rich in pageantry that included the posting and retiring of the colors and a moment of silence to remember those who were lost in wars. Those missing were symbolized by an empty chair draped with a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag.
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