Local veterans honored

FAIRMONT – From free breakfasts and haircuts to ceremonies at schools, veterans were honored Monday throughout Fairmont on Veterans Day.

At the high school, Voice of Democracy winners were heard, with Briana Gratz and Dalton Bartz giving speeches in an assembly celebrating veterans. The school orchestra performed “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Several businesses in Fairmont honored vets with free meals and deals, while others made it a point to honor employees who have served in the military.

“We’re very pleased that we’ve been able to make our veterans display year-round,” said Jan Hybbert of Walmart in Fairmont. “We worked several years on that, and now anyone who wants to submit a photo for the display can do so, and if it’s an older copy or needs a reprint, our photo department will do that free of charge.”

Hybbert also pointed out the collection area for used or damaged U.S. flags.

“We got so many last year in that short amount of time,” she said. “So people know if they leave their flags here, they will be properly disposed of. We also collect the old cell phones for veterans as well.”

Walmart held a short ceremony honoring veterans, specifically those on staff. About a dozen framed certificates were displayed, with some awarded to those workers present.

“I served in Vietnam from 1966 to ’69,” said Chuck Grandstrand, one of the employees. “I thank the others that served too.”

Steve Langford, a past VFW commander, served on the color guard at both the high school and the Veterans Day dinner at the Fairmont Armory. He was in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

“When I got out of high school, I knew what I was going to do,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to college because my dad couldn’t afford it.”

When asked, it took a moment for Langford to specify what Veterans Day means to him.

“I find myself remembering all the vets that’ve gone before,” he said. “I never talked to my dad about his experiences. He was World War II, and he never talked about it, even after I came back. I kind of wish we had … A classmate of mine was the only MIA [in Vietnam] from Martin County – Steve Harvey. I find myself thinking of him every once in a while.”

But given Langford’s heavy activity in the VFW and American Legion, he finds himself looking on the bright side.

“I enjoyed it,” he said of his Navy experience. “I don’t really remember all the bad things; you remember the good times.”