Southeast Texans gather to honor veterans

Veterans Day 2015 photos

Southeast Texans celebrated our nation’s protectors during Veterans Day ceremonies across the area on Nov. 11. Community members and leaders joined veterans and their loved ones throughout the Golden Triangle to honor those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Congressman Randy Weber, who says his wife Brenda herself is a Nederland Bulldog, addressed a large crowd in front of the Nederland City Hall adjacent to the Nederland Veterans Park to dedicate the park to veterans on the commemorative occasion.

“We need to be unapologetically patriotic,” Weber charged those gathered for the celebration. “We want to honor (veterans), and sing their praises. … We need to be patriots.”

At the event, Nederland Mayor R. A. “Dick” Nugent thanked the committee responsible for the planning of the new Veterans Park, and recognized committee chair and Nederland City Councilmember Talmadge “T.C.” Austin for his efforts toward the endeavor. Austin, a veteran who served in the Navy from 1982-86 and was a Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class, said the park had been in the works since 2013.

“We needed something more … than what we had on Boston (Avenue) to honor our veterans that have served and are still serving,” Austin said. “That’s how this all started.”

He said the park is not 100 percent complete, and the city has “future phases” planned, including the construction of an 8-foot-tall statue featuring a soldier silhouette, for which the city was provided a donation topping $17,000 from an unknown benefactor.

The South East Texas Veterans Service Group performed a 21-gun-salute and played taps at the Nederland Veterans Park dedication ceremony. Fourth-grade choirs from Helena Park and Langham elementary schools sang patriotic tunes for a rapt audience, and the Nederland High School Honors Band played a medley of national favorites celebrating freedom from tyranny and those who defend that freedom.

At the Ben J. Rogers Visitors Center in Beaumont, Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames read a proclamation honoring veterans, and thanked those who served the U.S. in the armed forces.

“We love you,” Mayor Ames said, addressing veterans. “We appreciate you.”

U.S. Army Col. Gregory C. Baine, a Beaumont native, spoke in front of a Veterans Memorial at the visitors’ center. Col. Baine is a Distinguished Military Graduate of Texas A&M University. He has played key roles in our nation’s fight against terrorism. He has served in the Pentagon, and he worked with the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a strategic planner for the War on Terrorism as part of the Strategic Plans & Policy Directorate and as the executive assistant to the Director for the War on Terrorism.

“Our veterans have shaped our destinies in many arenas,” said Col. Baine. “Our military is a living historical community.”

Baine thanked Veterans for their sacrifices and acknowledged their dedication to the nation. In closing, Baine quoted a poem attributed to author and U.S. Army Veteran Charles Province.

“It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.”