WAYLAND — There are some who answer the call to serve, and they are the true heroes.
The Wayland American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, and American Legion Ladies Auxiliary honored these heroes at a Veterans Appreciation Dinner on Nov. 11.
Wayland Lighthouse Wesleyan Church Pastor Rob Parker led everyone in an opening prayer.
“We are grateful for this nation we all live in, this great nation under God has been bought and paid for by the lives dedicated, committed, and lost for freedom's sake,” he said. “Tonight we pause from our busy schedule, and we celebrate those who have served, those are in this room, and those who couldn’t be with us tonight. Our hearts are burdened for those we have lost. Lord I pray that your blessing still rests on the United States of America. Be with us here, and abroad around the world as we continue to fight for freedom’s sake.”
Wayland American Legion Chaplain Ed Perkowski Jr. read the recognition of our POWs and those MIA.
Wayland American Legion Honor Guard member Nancy Nice honored Butch Perkowski for his long years of dedicated service.
Sons of the American Legion Post Commander Larry Duel honored Perkinsville Fire Chief Walt Drum Jr. with the Certificate of Excellence.
Butch Perkowski mentioned the need for more members at Boy State, and how well the four young men are doing that have taken the call to be in the program.
John Schuyler honored his son, AWFC (RET) Ryan Schuyler at the dinner. He spoke of his son’s retirement on June 10, and the awards and medals he was given for his two decades of service to our nation.
AWFC (RET) Ryan Schuyler was asked to speak on behalf of the fellow veterans.
“I am honored and humbled to be here this evening, and to have the opportunity to be with all of you on Veterans Day. I would like to start by saying thank you; thank you for all of your service, those past and presently serving this great nation,” he said. “Those who did not serve, but supported us made it possible for us to do what we do there. We need to know when we come back home that you are taken care of. Thank you.”
Schuyler said those who have served know it’s the epitome of what you can do for your country.
“Service above self. For those who gave all, the ultimate sacrifice. This Veterans Day on the 99th Anniversary the armed forces on World War One wanted to honor, reflect, and never forget the sacrifices that each and every service member made, and will continue to make for this country,” he said. “The day that was designed to commemorate the war to end all wars has continued to evolve countless wars. There is no end to wars and conflicts in sight. We must never forget our history. It is our service men and women who have allowed us to keep our liberties that we have. No other group of people in the United States of America gets to hold that claim.”
Schuyler said Veterans Day is an opportunity to make new friends, and to make people aware that their service never ends.
Steuben County Sheriff James Allard was present to talk about how serving his country made him who he is today.
“I think all of us here on Veterans Day remember those we served with, and remember those we who lost their lives. I don’t think there is a veteran out there who isn’t the man or woman they are today without the service they provided to our country.” he said. “For me at the sheriff’s office I rely on leadership, and the teamwork principles I learned all those years ago. I rely on that everyday in what I do. I know every veteran out there relies on what they experienced, what learned about themselves,and what they move forward with from the time they were a veteran.”
The Americanism Award went to Ben Reigelsperger. The Red, White and Blue Award went to the Bondgren Family. The Legion Award went to Ed Perkowski Jr.
American Legion Ladies Auxiliary President Rochelle Hoffmeister introduced a very special guest to the Wayland American Legion, Peter DuPre “Harmonica Pete” a 94-year-old World War Two Veteran.
“There was a young man being honored (Navy Ball) who came with a special gift. He performed the National Anthem with his harmonica,” she said. “He is a 94-year-old World War Two Veteran. I was speechless and tears came to my eyes. I wanted to share a story with you about this man.”
“Peter’s dad was a traveling tobacco salesman, and his family moved often. In 1933 Peter’s family got to know the kids at school. Peter asked his dad if he could join the Harmonica Band,” Hoffmeister continued. “He first picked up the mouth organ at the age of five, while attending school near Pittsburgh Pa. Since it was the time of The Great Depression schools couldn’t afford band equipment. His dad scrapped together 50 cents to get him the harmonica. This would start an 84-year-old story of playing around the world.”
Hoffmeister mentioned how DuPre and his brothers all fought in World War Two.
“Peter lost both of his parents very young. The beginning of World War Two found him and his siblings orphans,” she said. “They each joined the service, which they found saved their lives and made them the men they became. Peter was an army medic who served in England during the Battle of the Bulge. During the war Peter’s harmonica playing soothed many souls recovering from the battlefield wounds in the London hospital he was stationed in. His commanding officer always had him play something on the long marches to make it easier.”
DuPre said he was honored to be asked to come and play the National Anthem at the Veterans Appreciation Dinner.
“I am happy enough and lucky enough my health has hung on so I can do this,” he said. “I get to keep doing what I love at 94 years old.”
Both of his parents were in World War One, so he and his siblings all honored them with their service.