American Legion post to host annual Veterans Day program

Special to the Empire-Tribune

Turnbow-Higgs American Legion Post 240 will host its annual Veterans Day program beginning at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Erath County Courthouse in downtown Stephenville.

The program will conclude at 11 a.m. to coincide with the signing of the World War I Armistice on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, ending the war with Germany.

Erath County United Way and Interbank will serve doughnuts and coffee, compliments of Beans and Franks, to early arrivals. 

The Tarleton State University Texan Corps of Cadets and ROTC Color Guard will present the colors and rifle salute. Taps will be presented by the Post 240 bugler.

A "stay safe" table with masks, hand sanitizer and wipes will be available. This will also be the last chance to purchase raffle tickets with the drawing at the conclusion of the event to announce the winner of an AR15 rifle. Raffle tickets will be for sale at this "stay safe" table.


Guest speaker will be Col. Jerry K. "Kenny" Weldon II, USAF (Ret). Weldon has served in various positions of leadership and service over the past four decades. He has held positions as a college dean; Commandant of Cadets; mayor; chief executive officer; commander of a major military installation; and policy adviser at the Under Secretary of Defense-level.

He retired from active duty as a colonel, following more than 26 years as an Air Force civil engineer officer where he held multiple command positions. During his Air Force career, he was responsible to provide wartime/contingency capable engineer forces, facility maintenance and construction services, environmental management programs and disaster response capabilities at military installations, world-wide. 

His military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. Following his retirement from the military, he returned to his hometown and served three terms as mayor for the city of Stephenville. 

Most recently, he was dean and Commandant of Cadets at Tarleton State University, where he provided nationally recognized impact with the creation of a Corps of Cadets program. He led establishment of the academic, military training, and applied learning experiences for the newly formed cadet program within the Leadership and Military College. He currently serves on several regional and local boards, including the Brazos Region G Water Planning Group; Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas; and Cross Timbers Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He also serves as a deacon at First Baptist Church, Stephenville. 

Weldon is a graduate of Stephenville High School and earned a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He also earned a master of science degree in engineering and environmental management at the Air Force Institute of Technology and a master of science in national security strategy from the National War College at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.

He and his wife Carrie, a native of Dalhart, have been married for 36 years. They have twins, Kyle and Kayla, both graduates of Texas A&M University. Kyle and his wife, Allison and their son, Graham, live in Aledo and Kayla lives in Stephenville. 

History of Veterans Day

First known as Armistice Day, President Woodrow Wilson set aside the day of  Nov. 11 (the first anniversary of the signing of the armistice ending WWI) to recognize and thank our American soldiers for their service.

Congress amended this act on June 1, 1954, replacing "Armistice" with "Veterans," and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, with the German signing of the Armistice.

Traditionally, Turnbow-Higgs American Legion Post 240 has scheduled its Veterans Day ceremony to coincide with the signing of the WWI Armistice on the 11th Hour, of the 11th Day, of the 11th Month in 1918.

In years when the 11th Day falls on a Sunday, the ceremony is scheduled on another day of the week to avoid conflict with area church services.

Turnbow-Higgs American Legion Post 240, chartered in 1920, has sponsored a Veterans Day ceremony every year since 1921.