2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony in Chester is huge success

American Legion and VFW host excellent program

By Jim Beers

CHESTER – Saturday November 11 was Veteran’s Day 2023 and the Chester American Legion Post 487 was the host of the Annual Veteran’s Day Program and Ceremony.

On an alternating schedule, American Legion Post 487 and the Chester VFW Post 3553 take turns hosting the event at their respective facilities. Both organizations, however, contribute to the program every year.

The combined Honor Guard consisting of members of the Chester American Legion Post 487 and the Chester VFW Post 3553 proudly served throughout the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony. Jim Beers Photo 

On a bright, clear, refreshing day, a good, patriotic  crowd gathered at  American Legion in Chester to join in celebrating and remembering the veterans who fought to help keep America and the American way of life intact.

The 2023 ceremony began at 11:00 a.m. on the 11th day of November in the 11th month of the year. As guests arrived at the American Legion Hall, they noticed a small table that sat at the front of the stage where the dignitaries were seated. This table represented a very meaningful and moving gesture known as, “You Are NOT Forgotten” in memory of Prisoners of war (POW) and soldiers still missing in action (MIA).

At this scene is a table, there is a white table cloth on the table, a single rose, a red ribbon, a slice of lemon, the salt sprinkled on a plate, an inverted glass, a chair, a candle, and The American Flag.

The TABLE itself is small. This symbolizes the frailty of one prisoner, who is alone against his or her suppressors.

The TABLE CLOTH IS WHITE. This is symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their Country’s call to arms.

The SINGLE ROSE signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep faith, while awaiting their return.

The RED RIBBON ON THE VASE represents the red ribbons worn on the lapels of thousands who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper account of our comrades who are not among us.

A SLICE OF LEMON on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. 

THE GLASS is inverted, because our POW/MIA cannot toast with us at this time.

THE CHAIR is empty. They are NOT with us here!

THE CANDLE is reminiscent of the light of HOPE, to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to open arms of a grateful nation.

THE AMERICAN FLAG reminds us that many of them may never return-and have paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure our freedom!

Commander Randy Werner of American Legion Post 487 welcomes everyone to the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony Saturday November 11. Jim Beers Photo 

American Legion Commander, Randy Werner welcomed all in attendance to the event and thanked the Chester High School Band, under the direction of Steve Colonel, the local Boy Scouts and all of the veterans who attended the ceremony. He then thanked them all for what they have done to make the ceremony possible.

Rev. Tom Klausing provided both the Invocation and Benediction at the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony. Jim Beers Photo 

An inspiring invocation was provided by Reverend Tom Klausing who began with a patriotic parallel between the sacrifices that Jesus made so that we could all be free from sin, and the great sacrifices that our veterans made throughout the years to keep us free as a nation.

The Chester High School Band, under the direction of Steve Colonel, performed throughout the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony, much to the delight of the audience and dignitaries.in attendance. Jim Beers Photo 

After Reverend Klausing’s Invocation, the Chester High School Band performed the United States National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”, as everyone stood to attention with hands over their hearts.

Immediately following the conclusion of the heart-warming performance of the “National Anthem”, the High School Concert Band played a moving version of yet another very popular and patriotic national favorite, “America the Beautiful”.


Mayor Tom Page of Chester welcomed everyone to the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony and provided key favorable remarks regarding the ceremony and various individuals and groups associated with its success. Jim Beers Photo

The next speaker of the day was Tom Page, Mayor of the City of Chester. Mayor Page began by thanking the local Boy Scouts for placing all of the beautiful American Flags throughout the city. 

Page said, “Would the Boy Scouts please stand up. I don’t think everyone realizes all of the work that goes into you putting all of the flags up every year. Thank You for all that you do! The Chester Band is awesome. This is my 11th year here and you have always done an excellent job of providing patriotic music for this event!”

“Welcome to you all and thank you for coming today. I hope you all have a great day. And ‘thank you’ to Lee and Farida Hollaway and your staff here at the Legion for such a great job you do!”

Commander Rick Nelan of Chester VFW Post 3553 provided “Remarks” at the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony. Jim Beers Photo

The Chester V.F.W. Post 3553 has a new commander and he was on hand to provide a brief remark for the event. Commander Rick Nelan said, “I too will keep my remarks brief. Thank you all for coming and I want to thank the American Legion for all of the work that went into hosting this ceremony.”

Guest Speaker for the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony was Bill Enyart, U.S. Army Maj. General Retired. Enyart gave a brilliant message which was both inspirational and entertaining. Jim Beers Photo

The guest speaker for the ceremony was a well-known and somewhat familiar man to the Chester area. His name is Bill Enyart and he is a U.S. Army Maj. General Retired. He has spoken at the American Legion at a past Veteran’s Day Ceremony and he currently owns a retirement home here in Chester and visits here often.

Enyart said, “It is a privilege to be able to speak to you at this Veteran’s Day Ceremony. I want to address two themes. First to talk about “why” we give thanks to our veterans and second to actually say “thanks” to our veterans.”

Maj. Retired Bill Enyart noted that we should thank our veterans for their sacrifices in performing their duty in keeping us safe and free. He also mentioned that he thanks the U.S. of A. and the Federal government and the taxpayers for saving the G.I Bill and providing V.A Benefits to our veterans.

Enyart then asked all veterans to stand. He then had them clap and say thanks to everyone who support the spouses, families, and friends of veterans. He then said, “Thank you, but we would gladly do it all over again for you!”

Another wonderful point that Enyart brought up was the fact in America, we have the right and ability to question our government and argue about things that we do not agree with. He said, “In what other countries can you face the government and question things that you do not like or agree with?”

“Can you imagine living in Russia, Iran, Africa, or any other number of foreign countries and attempting to question the government? In our great country we have many rights that other countries would love to have, and much of that is due to the sacrifices made in earlier times by our veterans!”

Pictured are members of the combined American Legion Post 487 and VFW Post 3553 Honor Guard who presented the flags of the five major branches of the United States Armed Forces during the playing of the “Armed Forces Medley” by the Chester High School Band. Theme songs from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard were perfumed during his patriotic event and members of the various branches stood and were recognized while their respective theme song were being played. The U.S. Space Force is also now recognized as a branch of the US Armed Forces, however, no theme song for that branch has been written to date that is known.  Jim Beers Photo 

In keeping with the theme of thanking our veterans, Steve Colonel and the Chester High School Band followed Enyart’s comments by playing the popular, “Armed Forces Medley”.

This song features the theme songs of all of the branches of the United States Armed Forces including the Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. The United States Space Force is now also acknowledged as a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

It has become very popular to have the current and former members of those braches of service stand and be recognized as their theme songs are being played.

In addition, members of the combined American Legion and V.F.W. Color Guard proudly come forward with the official flags of the respective branches of service as their theme songs were being played.

 This segment of the program is always extremely heart-warming and often brings tears to the eyes of some participants and audience members.

The combined Honor Guard consisting of members of the Chester American Legion Post 487 and the Chester VFW Post 3553 fire their rifles in the 2023 “Salute to Departed Veterans”. Jim Beers Photo

Next on the program was the traditional “Salute to Departed Veterans” at which time the combined Honor Guards from the American Legion and VFW go outside and fire their rifles with a “21-Gun Salute” to honor those who have departed either in battle or from natural causes.

Chester High School trumpeter Josh Casteel plays “TAPS” during the “Salute to Veterans” at the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony Saturday November 11. Jim Beers Photo

This salute is always a sobering event which brings to light just how precious life is and how much our departed veterans mean to us. Capping off the ceremony is the playing of “TAPS”. This year’s trumpeter was Chester High School musician, Josh Casteel.

The Ceremony was closed with an invocation by Reverend Tom Klausing, after which everyone was invited to stay and attend a delicious luncheon.

Guests at the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony hosted by the American Legion in Chester, visit the buffet line following the conclusion of the program. The luncheon was FREE, and the menu consisted of jumbo hot dogs, delicious “homemade” hearty vegetable-beef soup, potato chips and cold beverages. Jim Beers Photo

The large crowd who attended the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony and Program Saturday November 11 at the American Legion Post 487 in Chester enjoyed a FREE luncheon provided and served by “volunteer” members of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary. Jim Beers Photo

This year’s luncheon included jumbo hot dogs, potato chips, homemade beef vegetable soup and beverages. The Chester American Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary Group discontinued to function as an “official” organization this past year, however, the ladies are still members of the National Organization.

Although the Chester American Legion Ladies Auxiliary has disbanded, most of the ladies from that former group are still members of the American Legion Auxiliary National Organization. The following “volunteers” prepared and served a delicious meal to guests at the 2023 Veteran’s Day Ceremony Saturday November 11. Pictured (left to right) are Mecca Korando, Farida Hollaway, Chief Cook and Organizer, Ellen Kautz, Joyce McGee, Laura Brockmeyer, and Allyson McGee. The meal was thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by everyone who chose to partake. Jim Beers Photo

This group of ladies still frequently continue to “volunteer” for some events at the American Legion and the 2023 Veterans Day Ceremony was one of these events. The group of “volunteers” is frequently organized and led by Farida Hollaway.

Hollaway was assisted this year by five other ladies including Mecca Korando, Ellen Krantz, Joyce McGee, Laura Brockmeyer, and Allyson McGee.  These ladies did a wonderful job and happily served the entire crowd a delicious FREE lunch.