WINDSOR, Vt. — More than a dozen veterans gathered at a luncheon at the Village at Cedar Hill Friday to say hello to friends new and old, and to receive the gratitude of the community for their service.
About eight of the 11 veterans who reside at the Village at Cedar Hill attended the luncheon, said activities director Ruth Barton, who arranged the event along with others at the facility. Among those attending were one Marine, one Navy veteran, and the others from the Army and Air Force. Also attending were some members of American Legion Post 25 in Windsor.
Barton led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance, in front of a flagpole given to Cedar Hill by one of the attending veterans. Then the Rev. Geri Piper, who is not a pilot but is attached to the Civil Air Patrol Catamount Composite Squadron in Springfield, Vermont provided the opening prayer, giving thanks for the veterans’ service and sacrifice.
“It was an honor to be asked to come,” she said.
The room sang “God Bless America” together, which was followed by applause. Rev. Piper gave a blessing for the food, and then the meal was served.
“The menu today is lasagna,” announced Mary Louise Sayles, one of the co-founders of Cedar Hill. This led to a bit of chuckling, as Barton had just told everyone the popular (but apocryphal) story that the first Veterans Day meal was ravioli, served by then-president Woodrow Wilson.
The veterans and others sat at long tables adorned with patriotic decorations, quietly conversing with each other. Some knew each other, some did not. Some were able to chat about common experiences. They traded stories and memories while Barton and the other organizers walked about, making sure everybody was happy.
After the lasagna, Sayles made a few remarks from the podium. “I have a great deal of respect for people who are willing to serve in the military,” she said. She invited the community to come to Cedar Hill to visit the residents, including the veterans who live there. “We welcome your presence,” she said.
Similar sentiments came from Doug Whitcomb, the commander of American Legion Post 25 in Windsor, who thanked the Cedar Hill folks for inviting them to the luncheon. He noted that on Monday, the official federal holiday observance, an assembly was planned at the Windsor High School. He urged persons of any age to “say thank you to veterans in your own way.”
Barton handed out certificates of recognition to each veteran. After Rev. Piper’s closing prayer, most of them gathered together at the front of the room for a group photo, each person holding up his or her certificate.
“This went wonderfully,” Barton said when the luncheon was all over. “I was able to keep the tears from flowing.”
Barton has served as activities director in other places over 16 years, and she joined Cedar Hill last May. She said she has done events for veterans many times, and plans to hold similar veterans events in the future.