Despite the cold and misty weather, community members began to gather at Veterans Memorial Park in Great Bend Saturday morning for the annual Veteran’s Day Memorial Service at the Avenue of Flags. Members of the various veterans service organizations in the area assembled for the presentation of colors as buses transporting the Great Bend High School marching band arrived. A proud father spoke of his son who would present Taps that day. Young children bundled in jackets seemed to understand it was a time for quiet reflection rather than exuberant play.
The local Chapter 27 Commander of the American Disabled Veterans opened the ceremony with a presentation of flags. Flags from the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 27, The American Legion Post 180 and 180 Auxiliary, the Sons of the American Legion Post 180, American Legion Riders Post 180, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3111 and Post 3111 Auxiliary were presented by Lewis Burkes, Jim Harbour, Boe Levinston, Juanita Dreiling, Gerald Postlewaite, Roy Tittsworth, Bert Johnson, and Jonathan Nail respectively. Stan Jantz of the Sons of the American Revolution, attired in his traditional Revolutionary War styled uniform, presented a wreath at the foot of the American Flag.
Katharine Piper, Chaplain of the DAV Chapter 27, gave the invocation, and Terry Shepard escorted a folded U.S. flag to the center and presented it to the Past Department Commander, Terry Young. The Great Bend High School marching band then performed the Star Spangled Banner and Young led the Pledge of Allegiance and delivered a Veterans Day address.
The theme centered around the contrast in numbers of those actively serving in modern wars compared with those who served during the large wars of the 20th century.
“During World War II, the whole population was deeply involved in the war effort. Today, the situation is so different. Only one-half of one-percent of America’s people have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, a situation in stark contrast to large 20th Century wars. With the burden falling on such a small segment of society, these sacrifices are highly magnified as our troops return to Iraq and Afghanistan for second and third, fourth, and even a fifth tours of duty,” he said.
When they come home, they return to a country that appears to be at peace rather than at war, he added.
He praised those who made attendance at the ceremony a priority, noting that so little is asked of everyday citizens of today, while the few fight their hearts out in far off areas to protect our freedoms. He also noted that today, while the everyday citizen would prefer not to hear reports about the wars on television or read about them in the newspapers, they support their veterans in overwhelming numbers, and are nearly unanimous in seeing the need of upholding a strong military and are concerned about those who return home disabled in body and spirit, and want them to receive the best care available.
“There is scarcely a home in the United States untouched by the cause of America’s Veterans. In almost every family, there is someone who has or currently serves,” he said.
Following the address, Taps was played by a Great Bend High School bugler, and Piper gave a benediction.
Other area observances of Veterans Day included a program at Golden Belt Veterans Memorial in the afternoon, and a veteran’s lunch at the Great Bend American Legion Post 180. Area restaurants and shops also offered free meals and gifts for veterans on Saturday. In Larned, a Veterans Day Parade was held in the morning.