By Ted Waddell
GRAHAMSVILLE November 15, 2005 "These old souls, they stick it out year after year," said MA2 Kathleen Ellison, an active-duty Navy military dog handler just returned from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Ellison served at the prison "after the scandal" with her canine partner Dexter from July through November 2004.
On Friday, Veteran's Day 2005, she was proud to serve with the local VFW color guard during the semi-annual tradition of exchanging American flags at the Grahamsville Rural Cemetery.
"I'm honored as an active-duty member of the military, particularly in my hometown community with all the veterans," said Ellison. "Veterans Day is a day that we need to honor those who have served for us and who are serving now.
Ellison graduated from Tri-Valley High School in 1981 and joined the U.S. Navy in 1984, serving her first enlistment until '88.
In the wake of 9-11-2001, she re-enlisted at the age of 38 and just re-upped for another six years defending the cause of freedom.
"It's been a ride like I've never known for the last four years," she said.
Also joining the ranks of civilians, veterans, surviving spouses/family of departed vets, and uniformed Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts was Master Sgt. Dennis James, a soldier on active duty with the U.S. Army for the last 21 years.
He took off early from work to don his medaled and ribboned dress uniform and watch his Boy Scout son Jarred participate in the flag ceremony.
"It means a lot to me because we still have a bunch of troops over there serving our country, said the Liberty High School Class of '78 grad.
The ceremony commenced with a color guard from the local Boy Scout Troop (Weston Currey, Brent McKeon and Thomas Riordan) taking down the flag flown for the last six months in honor of WWII veteran Ralph Slater and then raising aloft against a cloudless sky an American flag in memory of Horace "Hoke" Everett of Napanoch, a sergeant with the 82nd Airborne during WWII.
His longtime friend Larry Smith addressed the assemblage.
"Horace was born in a little town called Eureka, that's now underwater," he said. "In the mid-40s he volunteered and went off to serve his country honorably with the gliders, and that's mighty brave because when a glider decides to land, there's no choice it lands. It's a very dangerous job."
Upon returning from the war, Everett married his high school sweetheart, and the couple raised three children.
"I know Hoke is up there watching, smiling on this ceremony," added Smith.
Everett passed away last November, and his daughter Joanne was on hand to present the memorial flag.
Miles Ellison served as the ceremony's "unofficial emcee."
Hes Kathleens father and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps (1958-60) "I was mustered out 45 years ago can you believe that?
"The circle stays unbroken. It's the continuation of one flag to another, he said. It's a great thing for the families, but it's a better thing for the community.