Stephenville, The Cowboy Capital of the World, honored veterans this Veterans Day, 2016, at the Erath County Courthouse in the center of this small, but famous, Texas town.
Burton Smith, Commander of American Legion Post 240, was Master of Ceremonies.
He began the service by welcoming veterans and calling the ROTC Color Guard of Tarleton State University to present the colors. The Corps of Cadets followed with the United States Flag and the Texas State Flag. Cadets then fired their rifles in salute as a trumpeter played Taps.
Leroy Griffin, Chaplain of Post 240, then led the veterans and attendees in prayer and reflection before the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commander Smith welcomed distinguished veterans including retired United States Airforce Colonel, Mayor Kenny Weldon who is also the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets; and guest speaker, James Bell. Bell is a United States Marine Corps Veteran and a recipient of multiple Purple Hearts.
Bell spoke about his service in Fallujah and Iraq, and how he spent the Marine Corps birthday, November 10, in combat one year and how much that meant to him. “Dates are significant,” he said “and so is time.”
Bell spent eight years in service, but advised: “I’ve been a veteran for much longer than I was in service.” He went on to point out that service continues even after veterans leave the military.
He asked, “What am I doing in my community to be of service today?” He urged veterans to be of help to the people and civic organizations of Stephenville and surrounding areas. “There’s something to helping someone else . . . you will benefit from it. Service is a key component in helping society get ahead.”
At the conclusion of Bell’s speech, he and Johnnie Ratliff, President of the Auxiliary Unit 240, laid a ceremonial wreath on one of Erath County’s two Veterans Memorial Stones.
Other Stephenville Veterans Day events included a parade on Saturday, November 5, and a Veterans service and breakfast at Stephenville High School on Veterans Day morning.