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Centralia honors its veterans

Posted on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at 6:59 pm

Events held at CHS, First Baptist Church, CIS and others

November 10, people across the Centralia area commemorated Veterans Day.

There were events at Chester Boren Middle School, Centralia Intermediate School and Centralia’s First Baptist Church to name three.

Two of the, the ones at CIS and FBC had something in common besides the expression of gratitude and admiration for Centralia’s veterans.

Katie Patton, Rock Bridge High School assistant superintendent and former Centralia R-VI history teacher was the keynote speaker at both events.

Her words honored veterans past, present and future.

She spoke to an audience of nearly 300 at CIS and nearly 100 at the First Baptist Church.

Patton’s speeches shared several common themes, among them the history of Veterans Day and the United States Constitution.

“Veteran’s day has an interesting history. I’d like to take you back to November 11, 1918. It’s 11 AM and the end of World War I, the war to end all wars. This became known as Armistice Day. Although it wouldn’t be called Armistice day in America until 1926 and even more, it would not be recognized as a national holiday until 12 years later. Because on the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, we thought the war to end all wars would never occur again.”

Sadly, she explained to her audiences, WW-1 did not end all wars.

She outlined and reviewed the history of conflicts in which the USA has been involved.

“September 1st, 1939, World War 2 broke out in Europe when German soldiers involved Poland. And in December 1941, Pearl Harbor occurred, and the next day America officially entered World War II. 16 million Americans fought in World War 2, today just over 100,000 soldiers who fought in that war are still with us. It was a World War 2 veteran who organized the celebration of this day with a parade and other festivities to honor all veterans. And as we know, two world wars were not where conflict stopped.

In 1950, the Korean War took place. Of the 6.8 million who served, 54,200 died during this time and 33,700 were deemed battle deaths. 7,140 prisoners of war were taken with only 4,418 returning and 2,701 never returning home. Ten years later in 1960, over 8.7 Americans would serve in the Armed Forces in Vietnam. We would send 2.7 million troops to Vietnam and for 15 years we continued to fight. Of the soldiers who fought, 58,220 lives were taken. 575 soldiers were killed but no remains were provided to the family. Amputations or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than WW-2, and 70% higher than Korea. 2,338 missing in action. 766 prisoners of war with 114 dying in captivity. No parades were given, no big speeches. Many soldiers were greeted with hostility or ignored.

For the complete article,  see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard