Mantua hosted its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11 in front of the municipal building, where dozens gathered to pay their respects to those who served the country.
The ceremony was held in a small square dedicated to each branch of the Armed Forces and featured a number of guest speakers, some of them veterans themselves. Members of the Mantua VFW were also there to present the nation’s colors.
VFW chaplain Robert Dunn, was on hand to provide both the opening invocation and closing benediction prayers.
“So why do we do what we do?” asked David Heitman, an Air National Guard veteran. “Nobody’s forcing us, nobody’s making us, and Uncle Sam’s not calling us on the phone. But we answer that call in our heart.
“We want to be a part of that heritage of the generations before us, because it’s the right thing to do,” he added. “Either we’re fighting the bad guys or defending others from the bullies. Regardless of the cost, we’re all willing to fight.”
Air Force veteran Cheryl Tunstall, a Mantua resident, was presented with a township plaque of honor by Committeeman John Legge. She is also also a fifth grade teacher at J. Mason Tomlin Elementary School.
“I am really proud to be an American,” she noted, “and I hope that shows through to everybody, day by day, as I am teaching the youth of today. I hope that I can get that message to them to be a positive person and a happy member of this community.”
Students in Tomlin’s choir performed “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land, among other songs. Clearview High student Alyssa DiBenedetto – a member of the school’s vocal ensemble – sang the national anthem.
Mayor Robert Zimmerman announced the winners of the school district’s Veterans Day poster contest, for which students from grades three through six creates posters with the theme “What is a veteran?” Two students from each of the four grades were named winners and will receive specially minted coins.
“I would like to take a minute to thank everyone for coming out on such a beautiful day,” the mayor said. “God gave us a perfect day to celebrate our veterans, here and across the country, and it’s truly an honor to be able to do that here in Mantua Township.”
Poster contest winners posed with the township committee and Mantua Veterans Commission Chairman Joseph Heitman. After the ceremony, guests made their way to the Mantua VFW across the street for food and refreshments.