And the trumpet played
By Robin Scott
The flashing lights of Hartley County’s new Sheriff’s K-9 vehicle set the Annual Veterans Day parade in motion on Wednesday, November 11th. Hartley County Sheriff Franky Scott and Deputy Chanz Fowler, along with K-9 Ella were just the beginning of an exciting parade.
The XIT Rangers organize the parade each year, which travels down Denrock from 2nd Street across 7th Street and ends at Veterans Memorial Park. The Rangers ride in the parade as well and are always a welcome presence in parades and ceremonies in the area. The Dalhart Area Chamber of Commerce assisted the Rangers in making this year’s event successful.
The color guard were members of the United States Air Force and traveled from Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, New Mexico, especially for Wednesday’s parade. Parade-goers were honored by the attendance of many area Veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Global War on Terrorism. Many family members of fallen service members were also in attendance and the show of support from the community was extraordinary.
Parade Marshal and honored guest Lt. Col. Doug Johnson, Rear Commander for the 41st Fires Brigade from Fort Hood, spoke to a huge crowd at Veterans Memorial Park following the parade. He traveled to Dalhart from Fort Hood with Master Sergeant Gordon Von Hamm. Master of Ceremonies Wayne Porter greeted guests and Veterans and Retired Navy Chief Glendon Pyle gave the invocation at the ceremony. The Dalhart High School Marching Band played the “Star Spangled Banner,” and Dalhart Mayor Kevin Caddell provided welcoming remarks and thanked everyone for their attendance.
Lt. Col. Johnson honored each group of Veterans from every war since and including World War II. Lt. Col. Johnson asked each group to stand as he spoke to the audience about their specific sacrifices and service. He spoke to each group with reverence and a deep understanding of how their personal commitment to the United States shaped America’s presence as a leader in world peace and noted that those who fought in World War II were the forerunners of the strength of the United States military forces throughout the world.
Perhaps the most well received comments he made were directed to the Veterans of the Vietnam War, as he noted, “You didn’t come home to ticker tape parades.” He also stated, “I wish I could rewrite history and give you the welcome home that you deserved.” He reminded the audience that Vietnam Veterans were “called names, spit on in airports and called baby killers.” One Veteran from the Vietnam War commented after the ceremony, “His words made me cry. I didn’t even realize how much I needed to hear a thank you like that until I had to wipe my tears away.”
The Veterans of each American military service branch was asked by Wayne Porter to stand as their branch’s military hymn was beautifully played on the piano by Rachel Pendergraft. Becky Seal sang “God Bless America,” as the crowd silently sang along.
In honor of the many service men and women who have, according to Lt. Col. Johnson, “Cashed in the check they wrote, payable to the United States of America for an amount up to an including their lives,” the military’s ultimate hymn of service “Taps,” was to play, but the sound system failed. Everyone stood, waiting patiently for the song to begin, but it never did. Then, without introduction, a Dalhart volunteer firefighter, Scott “Tiny” Grey, found his way over to the marching band and asked to borrow a trumpet. Without hesitation or fear of failure, he gallantly played “Taps” from memory on a cold trumpet and a set of lips that had no time to warm up. The less than perfect playing of “Taps” by Grey added to the specialness of his initiative, and his act of selflessness will forever be remembered as an act of heroism for those who witnessed such a remarkable moment that served as an exclamation point to a magnificent day in Dalhart.