A VETERANS DAY MESSAGE FROM WEST VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS ASSISTANCE SECRETARY RICK THOMPSON
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – For decades, residents of this great state and nation have recognized November 11th as Veterans Day, a time to commemorate, honor and thank those who have protected our freedom serving in the Army, Navy, Airforce, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Fortunately, West Virginians are known for our patriotism; it is in our nature to understand and sincerely appreciate the many sacrifices made by members of our Armed Forces. Many of you will already have plans to celebrate veterans in the coming days through your own family or community traditions. For example, I’ll be attending the Veterans Day Parade in Ceredo Kenova, among other events.
That said, it isn’t just what we do on or around November 11th that makes West Virginia so special. It is, rather, the great pride we take in showing the veteran community our appreciation and support throughout the entire year. On this Veterans Day, I want to personally recognize a man who fights for veterans and their families every single day; a man who is one of the strongest advocates for veterans in our entire state, Mr. Hershel “Woody” Williams.
Woody’s exemplary service at Iwo Jima in WWII earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor, among other commendations, yet that momentous occasion marked just the beginning of Woody’s dedicated service to other heroes. In the many years since that battle, Woody has remained active in multiple veteran service organizations and committees including the West Virginia Veterans Council on which he still serves. He has been a voice for West Virginia veterans for more than 70 years, ultimately helping to shape the programs and facilities that still serve our state’s veterans today.
Just a few years ago, at nearly 90 years old, Woody launched the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to perpetuate the Medal of Honor legacy through educational outreach, memorial monuments and other initiatives. And, just last month, we learned that a U.S. Naval Ship will soon be named in his honor. Woody will be just the fourth person to have his name memorialized on such a vessel. Clearly, his inspiration exceeds the borders of the Mountain State.
It is on behalf of all veterans that I extend my deepest thanks to Woody for his unwavering commitment to honor and patriotism. And, as always, thanks to all who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces – Happy Veterans Day.
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