COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ahead of the 2019 Veterans Day holiday, a program wants veterans to know their sacrifices are appreciated.
On Sunday, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum hosted the annual Ford Oval of Honor brunch. It showcased more than 40 previous award recipients, from WWII veterans to current service members.
The program was created by Ford Dealers in 2011 with a mission statement to “recognize common individuals who walk and live among us who have demonstrated an ‘uncommon’ commitment to defend the cause of freedom in service to our country.”
Rev. Richard Ellsworth earned a bronze star serving with the U.S. Army in the European and Pacific theatres during WWII. He praised the museum for its commitment to veterans and Central Ohio for the region’s patriotism.
“It’s very supportive,” Ellsworth said. “Wherever I go, if they know I’ve served, it’s ‘thank you’ regardless of it’s Veterans Day or not.”
The 94-year-old hopes the lessons learned during the worldwide conflict aren’t lost with the dwindling Greatest Generation.
“We were pulled into the war. But it was a good thing, not because of the loss of life, but because of the freedom [we defended],” explained Ellsworth.
Other veterans did not immediately experience the same kind of gratitude as previous generations. Vietnam War Army veteran Victor Cook earned a Purple Heart after suffering wounds in 1968, but he hid his physical and emotional scars after returning home.
“For a long time I was what they say is a ‘closet vet’ or ‘foot locker vet,’ kind of hid all of your emotions,” Cook explained.
Shifting attitudes helped the Dayton-area veteran come to terms with his experiences and recent accolades and recognition have restored his pride in service.
“It feels great because, like I said, I’m out of that closet, out of that box and now I can be proud of what I did and what I did for my country,” he said.
At 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum will host a Veterans Day ceremony featuring the 35th Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General Daniel B. Allyn, (Retired), as well as U.S. Senator Rob Portman and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The event is free, but registration is required. You can find additional details here.
2019 Oval of Honor recipients
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: John Bergman
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: John Carter
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: Moses Eldridge
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: Richard Ellsworth
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: Albert Haraldson
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: Norm Lambert
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: Rogers Marshall
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: Herbert McGee
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: Dana Robinson-Street
Ford Oval of Honor 2019: Herman Zerger