Good attendance for Veterans Day ceremony

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Retired Chief Petty Officer Frank Mullen spoke at the Veterans Day ceremony held in Aledo Nov. 11, 2010.

A crowd of more than 200 gathered for the Veteran's Day ceremony at the Mercer County Courthouse in observance of Veteran's Day. A parade of VFW members and auxiliary members, American Legion members, Boy Scouts and the Mercer County Junior High Band paraded three blocks down College Avenue from the old Northside Junior High School to the courthouse lawn.

Two representatives from VFW Post 1571 and Aledo American Legion Post 121 placed wreaths at the foot of the Mercer County Courthouse War Memorial that lists names of area residents who have served their country and died during WW I, WW II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The guest speaker this year was retired Navy Chief Petty Officer (Musician) Frank Mullen, who was a conductor of a number of Navy bands during the Vietnam Era and afterwards.

Mullen pointed to the freedoms that are available for all Americans that have been protected by brave servicemen and women throughout the years. He made special mention of Lieutenant Colonel Robert F. Baldwin, who died on Sept. 21, 2010 in a helicopter crash during combat operations in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. Baldwin was the son of Gary and Cheryl Baldwin of New Boston.

Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin's many awards and decorations include three Bronze Stars, the Meritorious Service Medal and three Army Commendation Medals. He was buried with full military honors this year on Oct. 6 in Arlington National Cemetery.  

Mullen said he was not a hero, "but I know heroes, for I have seen them, served with them, sat in mess halls with them and stood in awe of them."

"I have stood on Navy piers in wind and salt spray, playing "Anchors Aweigh" as sailors kiss their wives goodbye, hug their weeping children, then run up the gangplank of the ship that will take them away from their homes and families for six months, or a year, or, in some cases, forever."

He talked about the one common trait that all heros have -- humility.

He said that John Bradley, one of the most recognized WW II Navy corpsman, who helped raise the flag atop Mount Suribachi during the battle for Iwo Jima was not an attention seeker, he avoided it.

American Legion Post 121 Commander Paul Hampton and VFW Post 1571 Commander George Baxa place memorial wreaths at the War Memorial at the Mercer County Courthouse on Veterans Day.