By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — Veteran’s Day still held true across the nation as a day to honor all of those who have served to keep us free, safe, and alive.
Wayland American Legion held its Veteran’s Day Parade with both sides of the street filled with eager patriots. Post Commander Kevin Mark said it was the best turnout they had in many years.
The Covid-19 Pandemic continues to spread and take away our lives, values, and traditions. However, some things remain a time-honored tradition despite the chaos happening in the country. Veteran’s Day is one of them.
“We are Wayland, and we don’t stop doing stuff for a pandemic,” Mark said. “The veterans didn’t stop doing what they did for us. So why should we stop honoring them? If they stopped protecting us, we would be in big trouble.”
Korean War Veteran Norbert Lang said he was proud the legion did the parade this year. He was glad to be there for Veteran’s Day and celebrate it.
“I am glad they still did the parade this year. I believe in Veteran’s Day. I think they should celebrate it. We military are the silent majority,” he said.
Lang said the Korean War was the forgotten war.
“The Korean War was the forgotten war. They still try to call it a conflict. It was a war. When you have the enemy shooting at you it’s a war. We had to wait to be recognized. I am getting the honor to be a veteran. People thank me for my service. I tell them it was my honor to serve,” he said.
Vietnam War Veteran John Schuyler said Veteran’s Day means a lot to him and he enjoys being part of the parade every year.
“It means a lot to me as a veteran. So many good men and women lost their lives so we could have the United States of America and honor the flag. I will always be here to take part in this day. We are all US Navy Men. My two sons Andy and Ryan went into service as well. Andy became an X-Ray Technician and served three years. Ryan was a career military man and did 20 years. I enjoyed seeing Ryan in all the places he went when he was in the Navy. We had the best job,” he said. “Andy went in a day after his graduation party. Ryan went in the same week he graduated. Ryan helped me a lot at the family business. We had Schuyler Auto Shop from 1973 to 2011. He helped me his sophomore, junior and senior years in high school.”
Schuyler was in service in 1966 to 1968 on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. About six months into his service, he already experienced something horrific. A fire caused by bleach hitting the lead paint on the ship took out six of his men on the ship. If they hadn’t sealed it off when they had it would’ve taken him out too. Being that close to death is something that stayed with Schuyler.
“It only took 17 seconds to kill six of my men. We had to put Co2 down the hole to seal it or it would’ve taken out the ship. The bleach hit the lead paint and caused a chemical reaction. The fire burst right through. I was watchmen on the deck and saw the whole thing. It is by God’s grace I am still standing here today,” he said. “If the fire would’ve spread to the tanks right next to me, I would’ve died, and the ship would be gone. It still haunts me what happened to those six men. No one wanted to talk about the bleach being a fire hazard a year before. In 1965 a buddy of mine had this happen to him. No one did anything about it or trained the men how to use the bleach or store it.”
Schuyler had a rough time of it at first, but a commander would be a father figure to him to help him through the rest of his service.
“Dad and I started working together when I came home. We worked together for nine years doing mechanics and painting. That was the time I really got to know my dad,” he said. “I enjoyed every moment of it. Dad taught me a lot about responsibility. We got along good and worked hard.”
Schuyler started out part of the Dansville American Legion but would leave after they refused to put his name on the honor wall. He joined the Wayland American Legion. He is now captain of the Wayland Honor Guard. He takes care of membership. He has loved being part of the Wayland Honor Guard since the late 1990s.
“You can cry when you hear that alarm go off. It takes me back to the guys who fought and died on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. It always makes me think about that when I hear the alarm,” he said.
Mark wants to thank the Wayland Village Police Department and Wayland Fire Department for their help in the parade every year. Mark and Nancy Nice gave the ceremony this year in honor of all our veterans.