At the Liberty Fountain in Holly Ridge, the flags flew at half mast ahead of the town’s third annual Veteran’s Day ceremony.

A small but enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Holly Ridge Community Center on Saturday to celebrate the 243rd birthday of the Marine Corps and to honor veterans one day ahead of not only Veterans Day, but also the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

“I thought it was very nice, very respectful,” said first time attendee Jennifer Wallis, a bartender at the Holly Ridge VFW and a former member of the Air Force. “It’s good to show respect for our veterans and honor those who have served this country for the freedoms that we have.”

Holly Ridge Mayor Anita Dingler led the ceremony, honoring each branch of the military individually. Every branch was represented in the audience, with the exception of the Coast Guard.

“We had a good turnout this time (and) a bigger variety of people,” Dingler said. “Someone from most of the armed forces was here. We had a good variety today and of various ages too, which is kind of nice.”

The event was held inside because the morning was “a little windy and chilly” according to Dingler. But that did not hinder its impact, said Vietnam veteran David Newbery.

“It’s personal, honorable,” Newbery said of the ceremony. “I’ve been to the big ones where the big shots are there and they’re there because they have to — (Dingler) is here because she wants to.”

As part of the ceremony, Mike Kasprzyk, post commander of Holly Ridge VFW, laid out a POW/MIA table and gave an address of his own.

“I think it’s important for people to be aware that of the last two generations only 2 percent of the population have served,” Kasprzyk said of the ceremony. “It’s a sliver of the population that decides, 'This is important to me to be on active duty to continue to defend the constitution and to fight for freedom' … I think it’s important that the 98 percent recognize what the 2 percent are doing.”

Jim Frissell, a Vietnam veteran who has attended the ceremony every year, said it was important “to honor the fallen.”

Frissell comes from a long line of veterans. His father served in World War II. His grandfather served in WWI. He had four cousins who served in Vietnam and has a younger cousin who currently serves.

 

Reporter Maxim Tamarov can be reached at 910-219-8439 or mtamarov@jdnews.com