Veterans were honored on Monday, Veterans Day, throughout Lincoln County in different ways. Lincolnton held their annual Veterans Day Parade and it was well attended by veterans and community members alike.
Originally called Armistice Day, commemorated by President Woodrow Wilson on Nov. 11, 1919, the remembrance was originally intended to celebrate world peace. Even though fighting between the Allied Forces and Germany stopped on the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, World War I, often called the “War to end all wars,” didn’t formally end until seven months later.
Wilson’s proclamation read in part - “… Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations …”
By 1926, 27 states had made Armistice Day a legal holiday and it became an official holiday dedicated to world peace in 1938. Unfortunately, WWI was not the war to end all wars. To remember the veterans who fought World War II and the Korean War, the name of Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954.
In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 which would have moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. This was to take effect in 1971, but this was met with confusion and disagreement. Congress passed a bill in 1975 which returned the date back to Nov. 11.
The main speaker at the service after the parade was Lincolnton Mayor Ed Hatley, who took the time to thank several veterans who are living in the community.
“There are a lot of people I could recognize that are key to our community,” he said. “I wanted to recognize just a few of them.”
Hatley recognized Dale Punch for the work he does in bringing in Medal of Honor recipients each year to speak to local students and the community. He also recognized Walt Shrum, who was recognized as the Lincoln County Veteran of the Year this year.
“A lot of people know Walt Shrum as the Veteran of the Year,” Hatley said. “I know him more as ‘Walt’s Lock and Key.’ He operated a business here in Lincolnton for years. He has gotten me into my car more than once. He’s gotten me into my house more than once.”
Another veteran Hatley recognized was Chris Duschel, who devotes his time on a daily basis to fixing cars for local veterans.
“We don’t recognize people like Chris enough,” he said. “I didn’t see Lewis Heavner here. He’s a World War II veteran. I want to thank Lewis, he raised a great family and worked for the schools for 40 years probably. I learned a lot from Lewis. That’s the reason why I want to emphasize that veterans contribute to the community. They help the community. If it hadn’t been for Lewis, well, I don’t know whether this is a compliment or not, I wouldn’t be as good a man as I am.”
In continuing to name off local veterans who deserved special thanks, Hatley commended Alex Patton for the work that he does for both veterans, as the director of Lincoln County Veterans Services, as well as for the homeless through Hesed House for Hope. Patton received a special award during the ceremony for his services on behalf of veterans.
Hatley also recognized his father-in-law who is a World War II veteran.
“Veterans Day is a day to remember all of the veterans for all of the services they’ve done through the armed forces and to the community that they live in because they’ve contributed to both,” he said. “I’m not sure which one they contributed more to. I don’t think that you can weigh the difference. Instead of returning and just sitting around, they have made major contributions to the community.”