ELKHART — Bundled up in a coat and wrapped in a blanket, Emmett Manley wouldn’t miss Elkhart’s Veterans Day celebration for the world.
The chilly weather Monday, Nov. 11, was no match for Manley’s allegiance to his fellow veterans. He was among roughly 200 people who gathered at Rice Cemetery on the east side of the city for Echo Taps from the Heart’s Veterans Day ceremony.
“It’s thrilling to be here,” said Manley, who proudly served in the medical corps of the U.S. Army for three years, five months and six days. “It feels real good to remember veterans.”
Manley was joined by his daughter, Carolyn Manley. The two look forward to celebrating Veterans Day together every year.
“He’s always one of the oldest vets here,” she said. “He’s 91. This is such a moving day, and I’m so glad Elkhart supports it the way it does.”
From Main Street in downtown Elkhart to Rice Cemetery where veterans, friends and family gathered, trumpeters took turns playing taps, a piece traditionally performed at military funerals.
“We believe it’s a very unique way to honor our veterans,” said Terry Vantine, who started Echo Taps from the Heart five years ago. “The 24 notes of taps are probably the most somber notes that are played in our music repertoire.”
Gordon Sherven, past commander at Elkhart DAV chapter 19, asked the crowd to take the time to thank a veteran for their service in the military.
“We Americans should be inspired with astonishment and gratitude for the liberties and freedoms which have been secured by those willing to undertake the tremendous burden of war,” he said.
Elkhart County Veterans Services Officer Ron Lundy expressed the need to take care of the county’s 15,000 veterans and highlighted some of the services available to them. State Rep. Tim Neese and representatives of other elected officials, including Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, joined Lundy in saluting veterans.
“Today, Veterans Day 2013, like all Veterans Days is not a day of mourning but rather a day of celebration,” said Arvis Dawson, the Elkhart mayor’s assistant. “It’s a day when the flag stays at the top of the mast, a day of remembering and thank-yous and appreciations.”
See video interviews of veterans, and posts and pictures of how Veterans Day was observed in Elkhart County: