A friend contacted me over the weekend to ask whether or not this year’s Veterans Day ceremony was happening this week on the Hamilton County Courthouse Square in downtown Noblesville
So I thought it would be fitting to write today’s column about Veterans Day.
It’s one of 10 official holidays observed by the U.S. Postal Service, and this year Veterans Day falls on Wednesday, Nov. 11.
I try to attend the Veterans Day ceremony every year at the Hamilton County War Memorial on the Square. The ceremony is always at 11 a.m.
Sometimes, the weather isn’t the greatest, but this year the forecast calls for partly sunny and 47 F. No rain. But a little chilly.
The Memorial Day ceremony in May was among a few veterans ceremonies that weren’t canceled this year due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic. In May, when I attended the Memorial Day ceremony at the War Memorial, U.S. Army Vietnam veteran and ceremony emcee James Martin told folks, “We ain’t canceling in Noblesville, Indiana. That ain’t the way it works.”
Like Memorial day, there are many Veterans Day events across the nation canceled or scaled back due to the COVID-19. But Noblesville isn’t canceling its Veterans Day either.
The Veterans Day ceremony is annually put on by the Ralph Lehr Veterans of Foreign War Post No. 6246 in Noblesville, with participation by the American Legion Frank Huntzinger Post No. 45, Navy Club Ship No. 29, the Indiana Guard Reserve and the Hamilton County Veterans organization. This year, Martin said besides honoring veterans, the ceremony will also honor Hometown Heroes from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department, Noblesville Police Department, Noblesville Fire Department and Riverview Health. Shawn Sabel will also be honored for saving a life in the White River. Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen will offer remarks during the ceremony. Martin will act as emcee.
To veterans, celebrating Veterans Day is an honor, and a privilege and a duty.
Like the Memorial Day ceremony, attendees are expected to wear face masks and practice social distancing. On Memorial Day, there were no plans to invite folks back to the Legion or VFW in tradition. But on Veterans Day, Martin said there would be food afterward, with ham and beans at the VFW and sloppy joes at the Legion, and the public is invited.
“They didn’t stop World War I because of the Spanish flu. They didn’t stop Vietnam because somebody got malaria. They haven’t stopped anything anywhere because someone had some sort of a disease. We won’t stop either,” Martin said on Memorial Day. Martin is a Vietnam veteran and a member of the VFW, American Legion and AmVets.
Ron Wilson, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Vietnam from 1965-71, a member of Navy Club Ship No. 29 and the Noblesville Legion, said Hamilton County veterans thank all who made donations for the two new memorial stones added to the veterans’ War Memorial for Fallen Heroes in Crownland Cemetery in Noblesville. The stones, which honor World War I and Persian Gulf War veterans, are now in place, he said. “The War Memorial was also reset with a new foundation and new sidewalk plus three new benches,” said Wilson, who helped lead the project. The memorial was originally built in 1952 and originally funded by the Hamilton County Commissioners.
In nearby Cicero, Veterans Day activities are also a go. American Legion Post No. 341 was to put out flags to honor veterans on Monday evening. Hamilton Heights Schools students were seeking 50 to 100 veterans for the classes to adopt. Recently Legion members put a tarp on Steve Eden’s home to help keep the rain and snow out over the winter and are still raising money for this project. And the Cicero Legion is helping a Noblesville family whose 12-year-old daughter was severely burned in an accident, with a fundraiser pitch-in soup dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 21, with members asked to bring in their favorite chili recipe, potato soup, vegetable soup or other items to share for a freewill donation. The Ralph Lehr VFW Post in Noblesville is also coming together to help.
The Noblesville American Legion, Frank Huntzinger Post No. 45, is the first American Legion Post in Hamilton County, established on Sept. 2, 1919. In other veterans news, the Legion, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019, is canceling its annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Post.
I saw over the weekend that 2014 Noblesville July 4 Parade marshal Chuck Layton died on Friday, at age 92. Layton was drafted by the U.S. Army, served in Korea as an Army Ranger and at 22 found himself a POW/MIA with 36 other men. After 17 weeks, he led a daring escape that ended the captivity, instilling a desire to do good for people on a daily basis. The experience haunted him for most of his adult life until he put his memories to paper in his book, “Escaped with Honor.” A memorial service in honor of Layton will take place at a later date, due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic.
Looking through recent editions of The Times, I found many more veterans who’ve died recently.
-Charles C. Fitzgerald of Fishers, who served his country in the U.S. Army, died on Nov. 1, at age 85.
-Former owner of Nob City Hair Salon, George Boser, who served his country in the Indiana National Guard during the Korean Conflict, died on Oct. 30, at age 88.
-Meteorologist Robert Johns, of Sheridan, who became a lieutenant and ship officer on the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey Corps, died on Oct. 26 at age 77.
-Larry Rich, a lifelong resident of Westfield who served his country in the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart, died on Oct. 26 at age 74.
-Barry Dwigans, who served his country in the Indiana National Guard during which he earned a sharp-shooting medal, died on Oct. 25, at age 59.
- John Morgan of Noblesville, who served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, died on Oct. 22 at age 86.
-Lt. Col. George W. Mendenhall (USAF, Ret.), who joined the U.S. Army Air Corps on Feb. 20, 1942, serving just under 30 years as an Accounting and Finance Officer, with assignments overseas in Japan and Germany and across the country from Montana to Washington D.C., and received the Legion of Merit medal at retirement for "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services,” died Oct. 18 at age 100.
-John Hines, Cicero, who served his country with the U.S. Marine Corps, died on Oct. 17, at age 76.
-John Stover of Arcadia, who served his country from 1960 to 1964 in the U.S. Navy, died Oct. 16, at age 78.
-Ben Sprinkle Jr., of Noblesville, a U.S. Marine veteran who served during World War II, died on Oct. 9, at age 99.
-John Leonard, a Hamilton Heights High School graduate who served his country in the U.S. Air Force where he attended tech school at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., and finished his Air Force career at Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kan., in the 1370th squadron, the sole unit that conducted airborne photo mapping in the days before satellites, died on Oct. 3, at age 71.
-Charles Spurrier of Noblesville, who served his country in the U.S. Air Force, died Oct. 2, at age 84.
-Bob Dahlke, who served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, died on Sept. 30, at age 91.
-Kenneth Burgess Jr. of Noblesville, who served as a supply specialist in the U.S. Army, died on Sept. 24, at age 49.
One more that I will mention is Elmer Bosworth, who died at the beginning of this year. His studies were interrupted in 1944 when he entered the U S. Army where he served in the Battle of the Bulge. Upon returning to the U.S., he enrolled, using the G.I. Bill, at Indiana Central College (U Indy) where he studied to be an Evangelical United Brethren minister. He died on Jan. 28, at age 101.
There have been many more veterans who died this year. I wish I had space to name them all.

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.