Rain Couldn’t Dampen the Town’s Veterans’ Day Ceremony
On Monday the Town of Davidson commemorated Veterans Day at 11:00 a.m. at the Davidson College Presbyterian Church Congregation House. The ceremony was moved indoors with what turned out to be an accurate weather forecast for rain and temperatures in the 40s. The program featured keynote speaker Col. (Ret.) Robert Lutz, MD, the Hough High School Wind Ensemble and Junior ROTC, and the participation of many community members. [News of Davidson live streamed the event on our Facebook page]
When the Wind Ensemble concluded with their performance of the prelude: “Fanfare for the Unsung Hero,” Mayor Rusty Knox opened the event. He invited his predecessor former Mayor John Woods to provide the overview of the ceremony. Wallace Foutch performed a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem, which was followed by Davidson police Sergeant Nick Bockler, who is an Army veteran.
Commissioner Jane Campbell, a retired Navy Captain, introduced the guest speaker who is one of her Davidson College classmates. Rather than reading his impressive biography, she noted that he was a doctor who was given the additional responsibility to command troops. Most notably, Lutz spent roughly 10 years of his career commanding special operations medical units. She finished her introduction by noting that Lutz not only recognizes the visible wounds of war, he is also keenly aware of the invisible wounds.
Dr. Lutz retired from the US Army in September 2017 after a 30-year career as a Flight Surgeon and Emergency Physician. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine and Sports Medicine. He currently serves as the Team Physician the Davidson Wildcats, and has a Sports Medicine Practice in Davidson. Additionally, he serves as the Medical Director for Continuing the Mission, a Veteran’s Service Organization that provides fully trained service dogs for Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Lutz spoke briefly about his military career, but focused much of his remarks on the stresses faced by service members returning to a nation that is increasingly divided, and one that doesn’t really know how to welcome those troops back into society. He specifically noted some of the challenges of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Throughout his remarks, Lutz had Reid at his side. The service dog is in the final training phase with Continuing The Mission the nonprofit started by Suzy Lutz. She and Robert help provided service dogs to veterans with PTSD. Reid was joined at the ceremony by current foster puppy Ela who spend the next 18 months training to become a PTSD service dog.
Following Lutz’ keynote remarks, the Hough H.S. ROTC performed a flag folding ceremony, which was followed by the wind ensemble’s performance of “The Pride of America.” During that performance, veterans were asked to stand when their service song was played. This revealed that dozens of veterans, representing all the branches of service, were in attendance at the ceremony.
Commissioner Jim Fuller, an Army veteran, spoke eloquently about the symbology of the wreath that was presented to honor veterans. He focused on the unity of the wreath, and the unity of our community. He also took the time to ask the audience to honor all the veterans in the room, noting that for some veterans never received a hero’s welcome home. His call for applause turned into an extended standing ovation to celebrate to honor every veteran.
Davidson Parks & Recreation staff member, and retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Carmen Clemsic placed the wreath at the front of the room at the conclusion of Fuller’s remarks. And with that the wind ensemble performed “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Following that performance, former Mayor John Woods called up Davidson resident and Army veteran Bryan Hall to make an important announcement. Hall, who has been working on a concept for a Veterans’ Monument in Davidson, announced that the Davidson Public Arts Commission has formally started the process to design, construct, and dedicate a monument in the town.
The ceremony concluded as the ROTC flag detail retired the colors.
Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I in 1918. The armistice that ceased the fighting was signed on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. The tradition of having a ceremony on that date and at that time has endured. Armistice Day eventually evolved into Veterans Day, which honors veterans of all wars. This year, we’re celebrating on the national day of observance.