Veterans Day marked with observances in Cape Girardeau, Jackson

Friday, November 12, 2010
A color guard posts the colors for the Pledge of Allegiance during a Veterans Day service at Freedom Corner in Capaha Park Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010 in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Max Stovall was 20 when he stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. As he landed on Omaha Beach, he remembers a colonel yelling at the German gunners to come out and fight.

As the colonel was screaming, a sniper shot him through both cheeks without hitting a tooth, Stovall recalled. He said the colonel missed one day of action before rejoining the troops as they pushed into the French countryside.

It is that type of perseverance and commitment that Stovall took home to Cape Girardeau after the war. He said he came back to Missouri and started a business before serving on the Cape Girardeau City Council and the Cape Girardeau County Commission.

Veterans are honored at Jackson High School during a program Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010 at Jackson. (Fred Lynch)

The sacrifices of Stovall and other veterans were honored throughout the area Thursday.

More than 500 veterans and community members attended the Jackson High School musical tribute. Veterans were given red and white carnations from the students and the choir performed patriotic songs. At the end of the program, trumpeters Tyler Tuschhoff and Brian Martin played taps in honor of military personnel who died in service to their country.

World War II veteran Delmar Witt said it was just as important to remember those who died for freedom as it was to honor those who survived. He served with the Air Force in the Pacific Theater and said people have been thanking him for his service for almost 70 years, and it never gets old.

Donald Garland of Jackson served in New Guinea during World War II after being drafted at 18 in 1943. He said while he witnessed destruction and the worst of humanity, he also saw examples of people helping each other to get through the war.

He said programs like the one at Jackson High School are significant and appreciated by him and his fellow veterans.

"The sacrifice was worth it. I don't believe that sacrifice is appreciated as much as it should be," he said.

Luther Weibley of Jackson was 18 in 1964 when he was deployed to Southeast Asia. He said he remembers the destruction and constantly being alert to danger and attacks, but he also remembers the comradery with his fellow soldiers and sharing good days with friends.

For Weibley and others returning from Vietnam, their less than friendly homecoming remains fresh in their minds.

"We were spit on, talked to terrible. We were almost disowned," he said.

Weibley said in recent years people have become more appreciative of Vietnam veterans.

That sentiment was echoed at a service sponsored by USA Veterans at the Vietnam memorial on the grounds of the Common Pleas Courthouse in Cape Girardeau.

"The Vietnam era was my generation's call to duty, and the draft was still in effect, causing many young men to make a sacrifice they had not planned on," said Rodger Brown with USA Veterans. He enlisted during the Vietnam War and served in the Navy during the conflict.

"It feels good to get the gratitude. It only took 40 years," he said.

Terry Crass, master of ceremonies at the VFW Veterans Day celebration, said programs like the ones Thursday are a way to say thank you to those who served, as well as ensure the sacrifices made are not forgotten. During the presentation, Crass reminded the audience even if a member of the military did not see combat, they still deserve gratitude.

"By putting on that uniform, you said you were willing to go to war and fight for this country. We salute and thank you," he said.

Crass served in Baghdad shortly after Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled. He said he served in the most "dysfunctional" part of Baghdad, but he has no regrets.

"I would do it again. It's the most dangerous thing I've ever done, but I'd go back," he said. He said soldiers bring hope to those who have none.

North Elementary School in Jackson will honor veterans today during a special breakfast where student and staff members will serve invited veterans.


Pertinent Address:

315 S. Missouri St., Jackson, MO

44 N. Lorimier St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Broadway & West End Boulevard, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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