In the cold autumn morning of November 11, 2017, Veterans Day, members of VFW Post 1177 and the community gathered in the pre-dawn darkness at Balls Bluff National Cemetery to continue the annual tradition of the Veterans Day Sunrise Ceremony. As the sun peeks over the treetops in the dense forest that surrounds the small cemetery dedicated to the fallen Union soldiers at the battle that shares the park’s name, light settles in, highlighting the raising of the Colors and its accompany salute and pledges by the veterans and civilians like. The warm sense of patriotism fighting back the crisp coldness in the air.
Post Commander Ray Depesche speaks of the sacrifices the nation’s veterans have made during their time in service in order to ensure the freedom for all its citizens. To honor the fallen, a gun salute, conducted by the post’s honor guard, led by Bob Cranson, was given and a wreath was placed along the flag pole. A stunning rendition of the poem "In Flanders Fields” was recited by comrade Yurji after the symbolism of the Buddy Poppy flower was mentioned. Branch songs were played and veterans present from their respective services, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines were all recognized.
After the ceremony, the post members and community veterans gathered at the Leesburg IHOP to warm themselves with hot beverages, pancakes and camaraderie. A generous patron at the restaurant donated $100 to the final bill of the meal. Special thanks goes to the anonymous donor.
Following the breakfast, several members attended the George C. Marshal House Veterans Day Commemoration, in which Comrade Dennis Boykin was the Master of Ceremonies. Keynote speakers included retired General Dennis L. Via. Several members also attended various church services and school programs dedicated to local veterans.
As these events were ongoing, the Veterans Day Weekend Buddy Poppy Donation Drive had been ongoing, with post members and community organizations serving as volunteers to collect donations in exchange for poppies at several Giant Supermarkets within Loudoun County. Included in these organizations is the Northern Virginia Community College Student Veterans Association and the Herndon Civil Air Patrol. As of this writing, over $3.5K have been collected to support veterans in need as well as their families and active service-members.
We at the post would like to thank our community for generously hosting us at the various venues.