Baltimore County honors soldiers on eve of Veterans Day

'This says, 'Welcome back,'' cavalry man says

  • Baltimore County executive Jim Smith (left), Congressman John P. Sarbanes and Maryland National Guard Adjutant General James Atkins at a ceremony at Patriots Plaza honoring Baltimore County veterans.
Baltimore County executive Jim Smith (left), Congressman… (Barbara Haddock Taylor,…)
November 10, 2010|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

In the crowd gathered Wednesday in Towson's Patriot Plaza on the eve of Veterans Day, a retired Army sergeant stood proudly at attention, during the presentation of colors, the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance. Gordon Pinkney, whose 34 years of service include combat tours in Vietnam and Iraq, wore a cap that said "Buffalo Soldiers." On it was a patch that depicted a cavalry man and read, "We can we will."

"Ceremonies like this show you all care," Pinkney said. "That is all any soldier wants to hear."

The Patapsco High and Center for the Arts Show Choir offered patriotic songs and several officials paid homage to veterans during the noontime ceremony. The flags of each branch of service hung from columns of the county Courthouse. Emily Mast, a soloist with the choir, sang a medley of lively military anthems and veterans in the audience cheered as she gave voice to the lyrics of their own branch.

Pinkney recalled the bitterness that gripped the nation during the Vietnam era and said he was grateful now for the appreciation shown to veterans.

"When you are at war, all you want is to get back," he said. "This says welcome back."

He works for Maryland Adjutant General James A. Adkins, whom he accompanied to the event.

"The nation has come a long way," said Adkins. "Now, when we are in uniform, everybody stops to thank us."

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