KENNETT SQUARE— Several dozen local military personnel plus a host of friends and supporters joined to mark Veterans Day at the annual Kennett Area Senior Center luncheon on Friday.
Veterans Day is officially celebrated nationwide on Nov. 11 and honors military veterans on the anniversary of the of the end of World War I.
The senior center has held the event every year for more than a decade on a day that fits well with calendar near that actual date.
Senior Center Executive Director Anita O’Connor told her guests, “You embody everything that is good and honorable about the United States.”
Looking out on the crowd of over 100 people seated at the tables, she said when she first presided at the luncheon 14 years ago, she saw many who had served in World War II.
“Now I am heartened to see veterans from Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm,” she said.
The ceremony began with a procession of the Colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. Those in the parade wore the civilian garb that signified their membership in the VFW and American Legion.
The keynote speaker was U.S. Army E-4/Specialist William Todd, who spoke on the Armed Forces role in the American way of life.
A veteran of Desert Storm, he is enrolled in West Chester University as a criminal justice major and is active in the Student Veterans Center there.
He addressed the role of the military through the generations of the 20th century and stressed that the members are charged not only with protecting the nation abroad, but for ensuring that all citizens of the United States regardless of race, religion or political persuasion are ensured their rights under the Constitution.
He specifically mentioned the role of the military in making sure that the “Little Rock Nine” students were admitted to Central High School in 1957, and well as helping James Meredith enter and enroll in Ole Miss in 1962.
“The United States Constitution is what we are holding in place,” he said.
State Rep. Stephen Barrar, R-160, of Darby greeted the guests and told them he was pleased that the remains of 77 deceased soldiers from the Korean War had recently been returned to the United States.
“Think of the families who lost their brothers,” he said. “I hope this brings peace to some people.”
Also stopping by were state Rep. Eric Roe, R-158, of West Bradford, and state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9, of Middletown.
The luncheon was organized and carried out by senior center Program Director Andrea Durynski. Following the speeches during lunchtime, she brought a microphone to the seated veterans and had them announce their names and branch of military in which they served. Two who were sitting together, Artilio D’Andrea (age 93) and Al DiNorscia (age 92), both served in World War II. D’Andrea was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, he said.
Entertainment was provided by the Avon Grove Charter School Jazz Band.
Volunteers from The Chemours Company served the meals. Funeral director Matt Grieco was master of ceremonies and played “Assembly” and “Taps” on his trumpet.