Veterans ‘Days’ are frequent in the Bennington area


Next month, on Monday, Nov. 11, we will celebrate Veterans Day -- a day that marks the end of the "War to End all Wars," World War I, and honors all U.S. servicemen and servicewomen.

But in the Bennington area, it seems veterans are honored on a fairly regular basis. There have been a few outstanding events recently that have beautifully honored those who have served our country. Some of these functions have also raised funds for number of veterans-related causes.

The 2013 Vermont Wounded Warriors Golf Tournament, held at the Manchester Country Club on Sept. 18, raised $37,000 that will be distributed to the Purple Hearts Reunited, the Rutland Dodge House, the Bennington Veterans Outreach Center and the Vermont Veterans’ Home Resident Activity Fund. This well-run tournament paired a veteran "warrior" with a tournament player on the golf course, provided participating veterans with a banquet and commemorative items, and generally allowed participating veterans from all service branches to experience a beautiful Vermont day on the golf course along with good old-fashioned fellowship. Players were also treated to photos with and a performance by the USO Liberty Bells, according Don Keelan, event founder. The tournament’s motto "Sacriticium Est Sempre Memorabile" translates to "Their sacrifice is always remembered." Keelan, who is also a Banner columnist, adds, "Not for a day, but forever."

On Saturday, Sept. 28, Vermont Container Corp. of Bennington culminated a company-wide charity project to raise money for Purple Heart recipients through the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation. Plant Manager Mike Davenport and his staff raised nearly $23,000 for WWIA, a national nonprofit that seeks to help veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan get back to hunting and fishing. Davenport was so committed to the project, he took out a personal loan to purchase a grand raffle prize of a 2013 Kawasaki 750 Teryx and a trailer. When that raffle netted proceeds of $10,000, the Vermont Container employees didn’t stop there. They decided to also hold a benefit dinner and auction at the Bennington Elks Club Saturday -- an event for which they cooked and served the prime rib and stuffed chicken meal for 150 guests. John McDaniel, founder of WWIA, flew in from Wisconsin to attend. "Nobody’s ever done anything on this scale before. What an honor," the retired Army officer told The Banner. Davenport noted that the most generous contributors to the months-long effort were the residents of Bennington. Marine veteran Milo Surdam of Bennington, who attended the event with his family, echoed that sentiment: "This is local hometown people giving back to the souls who gave their courage and love to our country."

Also on Saturday, several veterans of the Korean War and their families were honored at the Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington at a ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the war on July 27, 1953. Additionally, the Veterans Home was presented with a plaque commemorating those who served in "The Forgotten War." Sen. Bernie Sanders noted in a letter that 92 Vermont residents died during the Korean War. Quite a few of those Korean War veterans are represented in the Vermont Veterans’ Home population today, and were each presented with medals and certificates marking the occasion. Col. Allan M. Faxon Jr., deputy administrator at the Home, said during the ceremony, "When I look out at you, I see the living history of one of our most brutal and bloody wars."

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs defines Veterans Day as "A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good."

It’s clear that in the Bennington area, we have far more than just one day for that noble cause.

~Michelle Karas


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