It was a brisk fall morning Friday as the late morning sun filtered through the golden autumn leaves at Veterans Memorial Park. The rows of star-spangled banners lining the Avenue of Flags danced in the stiff breeze.
Meanwhile, amidst this fall splendor, local residents braved the chill to honor those who have and are serving in America’s armed services. It was Veterans Day 2016, a time to look back and pay tribute.
The color guard then posted the American, POW/MIA and Kansas flags. This was followed by the National Anthem played by the GBHS band, the Pledge of Allegiance, the invocation by the Rev. Dick Ogle and the address by LaForrest Bodine of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3111.
“We thank you for the privileges we enjoy,” the Rev. Dick Ogle said, speaking to all vets. “Because of you, we live in a nation that gives us the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and the pursuit of happiness.”
Ogle said Veterans Day is a time to honor the living and the dead who have serve their nation. “Let us pray in their name of those who fought for America.”
“This is a very special day,” for the men and women who have served, and for their families, Bodine said. It is also a day for memories of comrades, many of whom have long passed.
“We are here today and are free because of all of them,” Bodine said.
“The purpose of war is peace,” he said. Referring to the League of Nations, later the United Nations, that rose from the ashes of World War I, efforts have been made to stop conflicts.
“The markers on the graves stand as a silent sentinel,” he said. They are a reminder of the price that must be paid for that peace and the debt we owe is large.
This is a great nation, he said. And, “without a mighty America, no peace can be long survived.”
The ceremony moved on to patriotic music performed by the Great Bend High School band. And, finally, Taps, played by a GBHS band trumpeter echoed across the otherwise silent park.
Prior to the gathering at Veterans Memorial Park, Great Bend High School held an assembly to honor veterans. The students prepared musical numbers and other special presentations.
In addition, in the afternoon the second stone with the names of Barton County veterans was dedicated at the Golden Belt Veterans Memorial north of town.
An armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of World War I.
This is why Armistice Day, now Veterans Day, is held on Nov. 11, and most ceremonies take place at 11 a.m.