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Town’s first Veteran’s Day ceremony draws large crowd

By Staff | Nov 16, 2018

James Boyd addresses those in attendance at Shepherdstown's first Veteran's Day commemoration ceremony held Sunday, Nov. 11. Photo by Toni Milbourne.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Shepherdstown Visitor’s Center hosted the first Veteran’s Day commemoration ceremony on Sunday at the War Memorial Building. Over 100 individuals were on hand to honor America’s veterans on the 100thanniversary of the Armistice of World War I.

The Veteran’s Day ceremony kicked off with the presentation of the colors by the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department as they carried their oversized flag down King Street to the War Memorial Building prior to the start of the service. At the event, donations were accepted to benefit the Great Recovery and Community Empowerment program.

Veteran Jim Staley, former Jefferson County Extension agent, served as host for the event.

Jerry Bock, president of Historic Shepherdstown, served as the first speaker of the day. He shared historical anecdotes about Shepherdstown residents who had served in military branches over time. Included as part of his presentation was a significant amount of history of the town in general.

Following Bock, James Boyd spoke about his experience as a Vietnam War combat veteran.

“I say that because it’s very therapeutic for me,” he told the crowd.

Boyd shared his life story of using heroin beginning at age 14.

“I was addicted for 30 years, body and soul,” Boyd said. “But for over 8,000 days I’ve been clean and sober.”

For many years, Boyd said he used the Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a revolving door, entering during the winter months for treatment for his addiction and exiting in the warmer months when he was a homeless man using drugs. A point he was attempting to make by sharing his story was that there is a serious opioid problem in our state, our nation.

“After rehab, then what?” He asked. “You cross that bridge and there is nothing on the other side.”

To help veterans and others, Boyd has dedicated himself as a volunteer with the West Virginia Recovery Coaching organization founded and led by Senator John Unger.

“Volunteerism is the opposite of addiction,” Boyd said. “I see it as a connection a way to engage people and offer them resources.”

Boyd encouraged individuals to check out the Recovery Coaching program offered at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College. Boyd said scholarships are available for individuals seeking to take part in the recovery coaching program.

The final speaker of the day was Shepherd University Assistant Vice President Holly Morgan Frye.

“I am not a veteran, I never considered enlisting,” Fyre said. “But I went to school, came back home, raised a family here, have a job I love — all as a result of veterans. I wasn’t willing to do it, but they were.”

Frye shared information about Shepherd’s resources for veterans including the location of the Veteran’s Center in Gardner Hall that opened in 2017.

“We at Shepherd want to be a place of welcome, of healing for those who put their lives in danger for the rest of us,” Frye said.