Veterans were the center of attention at the Cassoday Bike Run Sunday morning during a special ceremony held by the Cassoday Business Organization.
Randy Wells, with the CBO, welcomed everyone and thanked the veterans.
The ceremony opened with the Cassoday United Methodist Church Vacation Bible School students leading the Pledge of Allegiance, then Kati Davis, U.S. Army veteran, singing the National Anthem.
Cassoday Mayor Greg Ball, U.S. Navy veteran, also welcomed everyone to the event.
“I myself have a pretty good understanding of what it means to be part of a military family,” he said.
Ball grew up as an Army brat, joined the Navy himself and his son is a Marine, as well as other family members in the service.
“I do understand the impact on families,” he said. “Your service and your sacrifice is not lost on me.”
Ball’s son has deployed to Iraq twice.
“We watched the news and waited for his return,” Ball said.
“It is my honor to welcome all of you to the city of Cassoday.”
The speaker for the event was Mike Maloney, U.S. Navy veteran and post service officer for American Legion Post 81 in El Dorado.
He said he too was an Army brat who joined the Navy.
He opened with the state motto, “Ad Astra Per Aspera,” to the stars through difficulty.
“That is part of your journey as a veteran,” he said.
Maloney has lived in many parts of the world as a child. Then he served from January 1969 to December 1972, being discharged as a corpman, second class.
“I served quite a bit of my time with the Marine Corp,” he said.
In fact he only spent seven days of his time in the Navy aboard a ship off the coast of California.
“It was never a question for me it to serve my country,” Maloney said. “The question was which branch.”
He said it was after he saw his uncle’s Navy uniform he decided to join the Navy.
He went on to talk about what a veteran was, saying they are more than a person who serves in the military.
“World War II, these folks laid down their dreams and hopes and aspirations and went off to war,” he said. “Veterans are very modest about what they sacrificed to serve their country. Our service personnel have sacrificed upon the alter of freedom like no other country ever has.”
Page 2 of 2 - he said they owe an eternal debt to all veterans who set aside their personal ambitions and dreams to serve.
“To the veterans, thank you,” he concluded. “Don’t take that lightly. You did it because you are truly a special individual.”
They went on to recognize the oldest and youngest male and female veterans in attendance, those who traveled the farthest and the veteran with the most years active duty.
Before concluding the ceremony, Wells asked everyone to sign a POW-MIA flag for POW U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, of Idaho, who was taken prisoner on June 20, 2009 in Afghanistan. He is being held somewhere in Pakistan and the government is working on a trade for his release. The flag was to be sent to his mother in support of her son, as well as to show their encouragement for the government to make the trade and bring Bergdahl home.
Wells quoted Ronald Reagan by saying,” We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free.”
Christian Motorcycle Association Gerry McCann, with CMA Kindom Riders #909 of Andover, offered the closing prayer, then Kevin Pickrell played “Taps.”