Dignitaries help honor veterans at Durham church

Nov. 10, 2013 @ 06:48 PM

Area veterans were honored Sunday afternoon at Union Baptist Church with their “Veterans Helping Veterans” celebration.

 “Without your service to this country where would we be today,” asked recently re-elected Durham mayor pro tempore Cora Cole-McFadden. “Thank you for the emotional pain and scars that many of you will have to endure the rest of your lives. … thank you for all that you’ve done for this great country.”

The guest speaker was Command Sgt. Maj. Yolanda M. Tate of the U.S. Army Garrison Command at Fort Bragg. The Philadelphia native talked about what it takes to support those in the military.

“No matter how long you served, you are a soldier, you are a airman, you are a marine, you are a coast guardsman for life,” she said. “We are ambassadors for the armed service. We have a duty, we have an obligation to uphold all of those who served before us.”

Tate explained that “you have to have faith to be in the military. There has to be a balance or you will go the wrong way.”

“We need support,” Tate said of veterans. “We are losing soldiers to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). They need us. We have to support them.

“I’ve seen things. I’ve lost soldiers, so I tell you, it’s not an easy thing at all,” she said.

Tate added that while great strides have been made for women who serve, work remains to be done and that “it’s hard being a woman serving.”

The program included entertainment by the dance group Instrument of Praise, singing of the national anthem by Dr. Tonya Armstrong, recognition of fallen comrades and the POW/MIA table to honor those who were captured while serving and those missing in action.

Among those on hand to celebrate were Sen. Mike Woodard, D-22, recently re-elected Durham mayor Bill Bell, Durham Sheriff Mike Andrews and several veterans’ organizations, including the Vietnam Veterans of America, VFW Post #2740, American Legion Post #175 and the Disabled Veterans Chapter 21.

Marita Campbell spoke on behalf of military spouses and parents and the role that they play in the lives of veterans while they serve.

“When you have a child in the military, everything changes, the way you look at the military changes,” Campbell said. “When your child is at risk, whether it’s in the military or day-to-day life, it hurts.”

As the spouse of an active duty military serviceman and mother of a son who also served, Campbell added that it’s important for people to take that extra step when it comes to showing appreciation for veterans.

“It took years of praying to support my son,” she said. “When you see a veteran, when you say ‘Thank you for your service,’ add one more line to that. Ask ‘Are you okay?’ Or ‘Do you need help?’”

UBC Pastor Charles Barnes, an Army veteran, closed the program on a high note, speaking of the opportunities available to those who serve.

“The United States armed forces is the only institution in the U.S. where you’ll find more minorities in leadership positions than you will anywhere else in the nation,” he said.

Barnes said with a laugh that “even though the Army is number one, we all served together.”