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Veterans Tribute Tower in New Town was the site of one of several programs being held around town on Wednesday in observance of Veterans Day.
Sandy Wanner, a retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Marine Corps and the former James City County Administrator, served as Master of Ceremonies for the 45-minute program, which opened with an invocation from Rabbi Carlos Parker of the Congregation of the Tribe of Judah.
The Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the national anthem and posting of the colors followed the invocation.
The ceremony's keynote speaker was retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Jim Icenhour, a former member of the James City County Board of Supervisors.
"There is a strong relationship between two phrases in the preamble to the Constitution: 'We the people' and "provide for the common defense," Icenhour said in his opening remarks, describing the strong ties between those that serve and the general public. "Loyalty to our country is essentially loyalty to our fellow countrymen."
Icenhour went on to note how the relationship between veterans and the people they serve broke down following the Vietnam War, a narrative that was all too familiar to many of the Vietnam veterans in the audience.
"I was deeply hurt, and we all felt betrayed," Icenhour said of the hostile welcome he and his brothers in arms faced when they returned from the war. "But the long, slow healing process began, and for some of us it's still going on."
The program continued with several singers performing patriotic songs like "America the Beautiful," "This is My County," and "Last Full Measure," and then concluded with the placing of a memorial wreath, a rifle salute, the playing of "Taps" and moment of silence in honor of fallen comrades.