AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Friday is Veterans Day, recognizing the brave men and women who served their country.
As a grateful nation honors them, some veterans say they’re troubled by the images seen on TV this week of protests over Donald Trump’s election.
“It’s disheartening to see how the general public is reacting toward it. Pretty much the constitutional right of how the presidency turned out,” said Don Dewitt, of Cortland. “They have the right to protest to some degree but when you start damaging property, burning the American flag, that’s kind of like disrespecting the American servicemen and women that served our country.”
LTC Rod Hosler, retired from the U.S. Army, says the way protesters are acting is not right.
“I do feel a little…upset when people do that because it’s abusing the honor and privilege of being an American.”
Since the results were announced early Wednesday morning, there have been marches in cities around the country. Demonstrations took a violent turn Thursday night in Oregon, where authorities labeled it a riot.
“I look at that and I thought, ‘Is this what I fought for?'” said Vince Bellanca, of Poland.
Bellanca, who turns 93 next month, served in, and survived, the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. He led the Pledge of Allegiance at Friday morning’s Veterans Day Program at the Mahoning County Courthouse.
He calls the violence this week “horrible.”
“They don’t understand what we went through so they have the freedom to protest, but don’t disrupt the nation because you’re protesting.”
Although these veterans disagree with what’s been happening, they all insist that the rights they fought for, and others died to protect, cover the demonstrators, too.
Hosler says we must accept the bad with the good.
“Something like that would be put down in other countries but here, we allow it. We may not agree with it, we may not like it, but we have the ability to express our opinions that way. Hopefully not through violence, though.”
“It hurts because they served for that, but they do have that constitutional right and it should be upheld for them. We just ask them to do things, maybe in a better manner,” said Tony Revetti, of Austintown.
To honor these veterans and all others who have served the country, a number of events were held across the Mahoning Valley.
In Girard, the town celebrated the nation’s veterans with a parade led by the Girard Veterans Council Honor Guard.
A ceremony on the viaduct was marked by the annual “tossing of the wreath” to honor all of the brave men and women that served on land and water.
People also met at the War Memorial to hear remarks from local vets.
Austintown High School held its Veterans Day program Friday morning, which included the Fitch color guard, trucks with hands-on displays, as well as several World War II veterans.
The featured speaker was Chris Wortman. Her youngest son, Army Sgt. Robert Carr, was on his second tour of Iraq when an IED blew up and killed him.
Now Wortman has devoted her life to helping and serving veterans.
“There’s no greater role model than our veterans. They won’t tell you that, but I certainly will,” she said.
Wortman’s oldest son, Matt, is also in the Army and has completed six combat tours in Afghanistan and two in Iraq. Her daughter, Jennifer, is in the Air Force and completed a tour in Kuwait.
While high schools often honor their veterans, younger kids also took part Friday.
Wilson Middle School’s program included a color guard, taps and special table setting for those who are missing in action. It was president Woodrow Wilson that proclaimed November 11 as “Armistice Day,” which we now call Veterans Day.
Stadium Drive Elementary in Boardman hosted a breakfast Friday morning for about 100 veterans, and C.H Campbell Elementary School held its annual assembly.
At C.H. Campbell, Marines veteran Bruce Kirkland was the special guest speaker. He enlisted in the military at the age of 17 in 1956.
He spoke to the students about the importance of the American Flag and why those serving under it deserve the utmost respect.
The principal said they will be continuing their celebration of veterans into next week.
There are a number of deals for veterans, as well as events scheduled on Friday. We have a full list online.