Residents of Delaware gathered outside the Historic Courthouse on Thursday for the annual Veterans Day ceremony, which particularly highlighted those who served in the Persian Gulf War 30 years ago. The ceremony included several guest speakers, the playing of the national anthem, and a rifle volley from the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1095 Honor Guard.
Delaware County Commissioner Gary Merrell began the ceremony by urging those in attendance not to limit their support of veterans to a single day each year.
“We owe our veterans not just gratitude on this day,” Merrell said. “We also owe them support every day, and our hope is these memorials we stand before remind us not just of the sacrifices made, but of our duty to take care of those brave men and women.”
Reynaldo Cordero, a former United States Army specialist and Desert Storm veteran, served as the keynote speaker for Thursday’s ceremony. Cordero was assigned to the 546th Transportation Company in 1990 and was deployed to Saudi Arabia following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
Cordero shared his experiences overseas before describing the feeling of returning stateside after months away from home.
“On March 25, we left Saudi Arabia for home,” Cordero recalled. “During the long flight as we’re over the Atlantic (Ocean), the pilot asked everyone to put on their headphones to listen in. We hear the pilot and the tower communicating with each other. The tower asked if everyone was listening. Once confirmed, the tower read the plane’s positions to everyone and said, ‘You’ve just entered U.S. airspace. Welcome home, everyone.’ At this moment, we all just erupted to applause and cheers after eight months of being away.”
For Cordero, the return home was especially emotional as he was able to hold his newborn son, who had been born just days prior, for the first time.
Christine Santiago-Foos, who also served in the Gulf War and currently serves on the Delaware County Veterans Service Board, said during the ceremony, “Desert Storm has a uniqueness to it. It’s that the United States not only had a mission to liberate Kuwait from Iraq’s aggression, but it also had an extra strategy. And the swift actions and skills of our military and coalition forces made it a short and victorious war in 43 days. And to not repeat the mistakes of the past, especially through the support of our Vietnam veterans, our military members came home to many celebrations and ceremonies recognizing and appreciating the service members for what they had done and their sacrifices. It was well deserved, and today we want to make sure that those in the future can appreciate their service and sacrifices for that war as well.”
As part of the ceremony, a dedication was also held for the future Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm) monument that will be erected in the Veterans Memorial Garden in front of the courthouse. Work on the monument is still ongoing, and it will be placed at a later date.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.