Baseball caps with service branches and conflict names covered heads that once were covered by helmets and uniform hats. Many of the veterans inside the Waxahachie Civic Center dressed in the uniforms they wore during the days of their service — some as many as 50 or more years ago.
There were several who proudly displayed their Purple Hearts.
A Congressional Act approved May 13, 1938 officially marked the 11th of November a legal holiday.
"A day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day,'" reads the proclamation issued by former President Woodrow Wilson made on Nov. 11, 1919 on the first Armistice Day
We now annually celebrate that day as Veterans Day.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, the official day set aside to honor all veterans, the 17th annual Ellis County Veterans Appreciation Day ceremony was held at the Waxahachie Civic Center. For the morning ceremony, the main hall was filled nearly to capacity even after the staff brought in extra chairs to accommodate the many veterans, their families, and friends who came to honor those who served in all of the military branches.
The Classics Swing Band playing songs of the 1940s and 50s entertained those in attendance. A few of the veterans even took to the floor to dance to the tunes of their youth.
Among the guest that filed the center was retired Colonel Tom C. ”Ike” Morris.
Introducing Morrice was masters of ceremonies, Ken Roberts. The longstanding KBEC voice said, “Our special guest of honor is Colonel Tom Morris. At 107, he is the oldest living veteran in Ellis County and also the oldest living Aggie.”
The ceremony began with a folded flag presentation led by a U.S. Army Service Flag Detail – Hatchie Crew 32, Wreath Detail, and members of the Texas department Gun Salute Team. The singing group, the Reveille Sisters with members Amy Morton, Kathy Lawson and Ana Marie Warren led the audience in the singing of the National Anthem
The Reveille Sisters later sang several patriotic songs including "Oh Jonny, Oh Johnny," "Danny Boy," and "God Bless America." During the singing of God Bless America, the entire room stood, many at the same rigid attention that they stood several decades ago. Those unable to stand by themselves were aided by relatives standing with the aid of a walker or cane.
A veteran’s tribute then recognized those who participated in various conflicts, ranging from the present Global War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan to surviving veterans of World War II.
As each battle was introduced, many remained standing having served in as many as three or four actions.
Giving the address to the veterans was Chaplin, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Henry Drozd. Drozd gave a memorial to all veterans lost in battle. He spoke about the service members from Ellis County that lost their lives in the line of duty and the sacrifice made by the county.
Recalling a funeral held at Saint Johns Catholic Church in Ennis, Drozd said, "there was a trumpet player right outside the church playing taps and another a couple of blocks down the street playing to creating an echo effect.”
The ceremony concluded with a procession led by the Army honor guard to the Veterans Memorial where a wreath was placed at the head of the Veterans Memorial.
Of the guests to the ceremony were Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Roberts from Baltimore, Maryland. Both Navy veterans were in the area visiting a relative.
“We came to see how Texas does it. This is the biggest and best I’ve ever seen," he said.