FAIRMONT — Although the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to the usual events of Veterans Day in Fairmont, which normally includes a parade through Fairmont followed by a ceremony in Veterans Square, members of VFW Post #7048 still took to different memorial sites for a small observance ceremony.
It’s because they don’t do it to garner a group of people.
“We don’t do it for a crowd,” said Bill Wilson, a veteran of the U.S. Army. “I have lost family, I have lost friends, and this is my way of respecting them.”
While the only people present at the ceremony were representing local veteran organizations and groups, the proceedings went on just as they would in a normal year. The veterans placed wreaths in front of the memorial, saluted their fallen brethren, performed a 21-gun salute and heard the playing of “Taps.”
John Harney, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, said the intimate gathering of military veterans was kind of reminiscent of their time in the service when they only had each other.
“Today is to honor our veterans living and dead, anyone who served in the armed forces,” Harney said. “For us, this is just a reminder that sometimes this is just how it was.”
Harney said that although he likes to see a large crowd of people gathering on Veterans Day to salute people of the armed forces, he was happy to still be able to salute them as part of a small group. Over the years of his participation in Veterans Day festivities, as well as his time in the military, Harney said he has faced all kinds of weather, so the rainy day was a reminder of the rough times in the military.
“If it’s a beautiful day, we’ll often get a large crowd,” Harney said. “We had to serve some days that were a lot worse than this.”
Wilson, too, said he didn’t mind holding the observance in the rain. It was worth it to be able to remember the people he formed bonds with, which he described as stronger than just about any other personal bond.
“I have been doing it almost 30 years now. The weather is not going to stop us,” Wilson said. “It’s just something that if you’re not in the military, you don’t understand what comradeship is.”