Veterans Day Honoring Our Heroes
A Season of Gratitude:
By Anna Huntsman
Every year in November, Americans gather with loved ones and give thanks. While you might be thinking about the holiday with turkeys and parades, in this case, I am writing about the day set aside to honor and express our gratitude to those who have dutifully served our country and its citizens: Veterans Day. In the midst of pumpkins, costumes, and Thanksgiving feasts, we must never forget the importance of this day. What can we do to honor those who have done so much for us? Luckily for the residents of this area, there is plenty to do on this special day to honor our veterans and our country.
Westbrook Veterans Memorial Park –
Located in Canton on 13th Street, NW, near Mercy Medical Center, the Westbrook Veterans Memorial Park contains several historic pieces from the Spanish American War as well as more than 5,000 inscribed bricks within the Memorial’s walkways. This is the perfect spot to honor the names, actions, and legacies of those who have preserved the foundation of our great nation. Visit their website at https://cantonohio.gov/parksandrecreation/?pg=pk_westbrook to find out more.
Ohio Veterans Memorial Park –
The Ohio Veterans Memorial Park in Clinton, Ohio is the perfect destination to visit on or near Veterans Day. The memorials range from benches dedicated to fallen heroes, to a walkway of bricks honoring veterans from Ohio and beyond. This past August, the park unveiled a Medal of Honor memorial. In order to continue honoring these brave men and women from Ohio and other areas, the park is funded entirely by private donors. If you are interested in supporting the park financially, or know a veteran you would like to be honored there, visit the Ohio Veterans Memorial Park’s website at http://www.ovmp.org/memorials.htm.
Solid Rock Therapeutic Riding Center –
Another exceptional place dedicated to veterans, their families, and fallen heroes in our community is Solid Rock Therapeutic Riding Center in Uniontown, Ohio. Solid Rock offers healing and care for many veterans as well as both Blue and Gold Star families. Susan Woodward O’Connor, who assists with the military services in addition to being a proud mother of four veterans, says the support at Solid Rock allows individuals to cope with stress and other trauma. “When these veterans learn to control the horses, they learn to control themselves,” she explains. “It’s a magical, amazing transition.”
The horses at Solid Rock have all been rescued from abuse or other inhumane pasts. Nine of them are named after fallen heroes. One of these horses, the ornery, “soulful-eyed” Danny Boy, was “skin and bones” when he first arrived at the center. Then, he met Kathy Patron, a teacher and speech coach at Perry High School, and an indescribable bond began.
Danny Boy is named after Sgt. Daniel James Patron, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 6, 2013. Remembered daily by his family, friends, and the Perry community, Sgt. Patron served in the Marine Corps and was loved by all who knew him. His mother, Kathy, says her son did not like the limelight and would have been somewhat befuddled knowing a horse was named after him. But what Danny Boy and Solid Rock have done for the Patrons, a Gold Star family, is truly miraculous.
“At Solid Rock, we don’t need to apologize for our emotions”, Patron says. “I can talk freely and be with people who understand how I feel.” Patron remarks that Danny Boy nearly mirrors Sgt. Dan’s personality. O’Connor added that Danny Boy took to Patron right away. “These horses choose you,” she says.
For veterans and their families who are in need of healing, Solid Rock is a life-changing place. The center is expanding for future services such as counseling and physical therapy. The horses are truly capable of helping the individuals who seek out Solid Rock’s services. They can bring a smile to a veteran’s face, or work as a distraction to a grieving family. In addition to their military and veteran services, Solid Rock also provides equine assistance for autistic clients, and is open at all hours of the day year-round to any individual in need of healing. The riding center is run by volunteers who are always looking for help as the center continues to grow. If you are interested in visiting the barn, volunteering your time, or donating money to help fund the services, visit Solid Rock’s website at http://www.solidrocktrc.com.
PAY IT FORWARD
It is oftentimes the simple gestures in our lives that make the greatest impacts on us. The most remarkable way to honor veterans every day of the year is to simply thank them for protecting our country. Take a minute to brighten a veteran’s day by paying for their meal, doing them a favor, or most importantly, thanking them verbally for their service. What better way to celebrate their acts of courage than through an act of kindness? It is especially important to remember that by serving their country, some sacrificed their lives, while all gave up their lives as they once knew them. Winston Churchill once proclaimed, “A nation that fails to honor its heroes will soon have no heroes to honor.” Take time each day to reflect, remember, and reach out to those who have made the United States of America the “Land of the Free.”
Veterans Day Honoring Our Heroes Daniel James Patron