MATTHEWS – The Town of Matthews recognized veterans’ commitment to the United States and to the community in a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11 at Stumptown Park.
Mayor Paul Bailey told the crowd the day was not just for veterans, but for all Americans to be grateful for the freedoms that veterans have fought for.
Bailey said veterans add an important value to the town.
“They don’t walk around with that stamp on their forehead,” Bailey said. “They’re volunteers. They’re involved in so many of the nonprofits. They just do their work, just as they served this country, in quietness. You would be shocked at the honors some of the people on that stage have received.”
Bailey said the town differentiates itself from other parts of the region in its effort to recognize veterans. While all regions have increased their level of recognition, he believes Matthews provides more of a “hometown feel” and a traditional ceremony.
Bailey and Mayor-elect John Higdon presented commander Philip Mowry with the 2019 Matthews Veteran of the Year Award, recognizing his service to the country and the town.
Mowry said he was humbled to receive the award, but he is only one member of the veteran community.
“At the end of the day, it’s a reflection of the community’s veteran presence,” Mowry said. “To have an award to honor a veteran means that the veterans are public, they’re in people’s minds and they’re front and center in the life of the town. I’m just a spokesperson. I’m a figurehead for all of the veterans and all of the leadership in the town. This is a wonderful honor for all of us.”
Over the years, Mowry has felt the visibility of veterans’ has started to decrease nationally. However, he feels Matthews sets itself apart and makes him hopeful for the future.
“Here, the mayor and the commissioners, none of whom are veterans, have made a point to reach out to me and say that the town wants to have a robust celebration for Veterans Day and a robust weekend full of activities to commemorate Memorial Day,” Mowry said. “So the town is really interested in making it known that they support veterans, and it’s a great place for veterans to live.”
Mowry said citizens can see veterans volunteering at the rotary, the veterans advisory committee and local churches, where many have taken on leadership roles.
He attributes this volunteer work to the values learned in the military.
“We have learned how to serve and how to operate in leadership roles while serving, and we don’t lose that interest and desire when we leave the military,” Mowry said. “For veterans, we’re always looking for an outlet to try to continue to serve, which is really the mission of the military.”
Army veteran William Dixon was among the attendees at the ceremony. Dixon is a Matthews resident and an American Legion member. He said though things are different now from when he served, he hopes people took away an important message from the ceremony.
“We hope citizens recognize there are still veterans who serve today,” Dixon said. “They may not know anybody who serves, but hopefully this will give them a little spark of pride in the community and the country.”