Rutland veterans remember and pay tribute
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | November 12,2012
Anthony Edwards photo
A Color Guard, made up of representatives of the American Legion Post 31 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 648, line up outside the American Legion in Rutland on Sunday to honor veterans.
Veterans from the Rutland region gathered at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month Sunday to pay tribute to past and present veterans.
The Rutland Veterans Council ceremony Sunday morning was filled with music, personal remembrances and tributes to veterans and the organizations and individuals that help them.
The Dodge House, a transitional housing program in Rutland City, was honored with a giant check for $9,650 toward the work it does for homeless and hurting vets. Christine Morgan, the executive director of the home, thanked the various veterans groups who gave the money, saying it was needed to help vets get a helping hand on the way to recovery.
Morgan said Dodge House was founded in 1998 to help homeless vets.
“We’ve had success stories,” said Morgan, noting homeless vets from Dodge House have gone on to graduate from college and start successful businesses.
Morgan said The Dodge House was supported by donations from the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion families, and private businesses and citizens.
Morgan said some of the money would go toward tuition for veterans, as well as books and utility and fuel bills.
One veteran who attended the ceremony, and who lives at Dodge House, said that home was saving her life.
Cyndi Sharp. 45, originally of Newport, said she had lived in Dodge House since mid-August, after she received treatment for her heroin addiction at Maple Leaf Farm in Underhill.
Sharp said she had been in the Army for eight years, and had gotten out in 1991. After her children left home, she said, she started drinking, and that led to heroin. Sharp said she was homeless and lived on the streets for three years in Florida before getting accepted at Maple Leaf.
“Dodge House has put my life on track,” she said. “I’m 116 days sober,” said Sharp, wearing a hard-to-miss pink Army Veteran cap.
Craig Cassidy, president of the Rutland Veterans Council, also paid tribute to Ed Warner, commander of the Rutland Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 648, for his dedication in taking veterans to the local Veterans Administration Hospital in White River Junction.
As Rutland City Mayor Christopher Louras said, many may talk the talk, “But Commander Ed Warner walks the walk.”
“Ed is always there when you need him,” said Cassidy.
Cassidy also singled out Merritt Austin Edson, a Rutland native and former major general in the U.S. Marines, who died in 1955 but had a bridge in Rutland City dedicated in his honor Saturday.
Edson, who was born in 1897, is one of the few Vermonters to have won a Congressional Medal of Honor, Cassidy said. According to Cassidy, Edson was commanding officer of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who repulsed enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands in September 1942. “His life reads like a movie,” said Cassidy.
Greg Fallon, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and a teacher at St. Joseph the Provider, told the gathering that veterans were everywhere in everyone’s life, and maybe not in obvious ways.
“It is the soldier, not the press, that gave us freedom of the press,” he said.
After the indoor ceremonies, people went outside to view a giant American flag that was hung between two ladder trucks outside the American Legion Post 31 on Washington Street. An honor guard fired shots, and there was the traditional playing of taps.
The honor guard was made up of representatives of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The Norwich University Campus Choraleers provided music for the event, singing many patriotic songs, including a roll call of the themes of all the divisions of the armed services.
Cassidy thanked the college singing group for coming to Rutland on a Sunday morning to provide live music for the veterans, saying that the local schools couldn’t participate on a Sunday. Cassidy also thanked the veterans who gave up a beautiful early November day during deer season to come and pay their respects and participate in the ceremony.
Veterans Day originally started as Armistice Day after World War 1, when hostilities between Allied forces and Germany ceased on Nov. 11, 1918 at 11 a.m. The Treaty of Versailles, signed June 28, 1919, ended the war.
Since 1954, November 11 has been observed as Veterans Day.