The veterans who turned out to commemorate Veterans Day on the 100th anniversary of the "Great War," or the ending of the First World War, "kept their powder dry" so to speak as they gathered inside the National Guard Armory in Hernando for a luncheon in their honor.

A drizzling, cold rain might have caused organizers of the Veterans Day Parade to cancel but there was plenty of spark and pep to patriotic ceremonies inside the Armory.

"The rain didn't dampen anyone's spirits," said Carolyn Young, one of the main organizers of the event. “Like one veteran told me, the rain made for great fellowship."

An estimated 2,000 attended last year's parade down Commerce Street and around the historic square.

"I talked with so many veterans on the phone about coming today," added Young. 'This gave me the opportunity to put a name with a face."

Inside the Armory, veterans were serenaded by middle school students from Hernando Middle School and greeted by flag-waving elementary school students. The Hernando Civic Garden Club designed patriotic centerpieces for the tables consisting of white hydrangea and red and blue ribbon.

Student Avrey Handley delivered a heartfelt "thank you" to veterans and a special message was delivered by William Jones, Founder of Operation Stand Down of the Mid-South.

"As I look around this room, I see a lot of men and women who are proud to serve their country," said Jones to the 400 people gathered inside the Armory.

Jones, who works in conjunction with the VA in Memphis, noted the deficiencies in services provided by that agency, but added improvements are steadily being made.

"All is not doom and gloom," Jones said. "We have our challenges. We are turning in the right direction."

Jones said more work needs to be done to improve services to homeless vets, those military service personnel suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, and wounded and disabled veterans. "I want to thank each and every one of you who have served. Our spouses, our family members, we all do it together."

Jones encouraged veterans to share their experiences with young and old alike.

"Each and every one of you have a story to tell," Jones said.

On Sunday, veterans gathered at the DeSoto County Veterans Park for a wreath-laying ceremony.

That event followed several programs and luncheons earlier in the week.

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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