ALPENA - After the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2496 Honor Guard fired their salute, another post member played Taps while a crowd listened at Little Flanders Field on Sunday.
A row of servicemen and women stood before the grave markers, joined by those who came to show their support for the nation's veterans on Veterans Day. The ceremony began at 11 a.m. - the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month." It's a tradition that dates back to the holiday's origins.
After the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation by Chaplain Darwin Mausolf, Col. Brian Teff, Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center commander, told the crowd about the men and women who fought for their country, or served to support those who did.
News Photo by Jordan Travis
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2496 Honor Guard fires a 21-gun salute at Little Flanders Field for Veterans Day.
"He or she is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who's offered some of his or her life's most vital years in the service of their country and who sacrificed ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs," he said. "A soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman or Marine who is testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known."
Teff also spoke about the history of Veterans Day. It started with the signing of the armistice to end World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. Congress made Armistice Day a national holiday in 1938, and residents of Emporia, Kan., started calling it Veterans Day in 1953 as a tribute to locals who served. A Kansas lawmaker introduced a bill to Congress soon after to take the name change nationwide.
While everyone should do their part to help veterans in the community, it's most important to remember to thank them for their service, Teff said.
"So remember, each time you see someone who served our country, just lean over and say, 'thank you,'" he said. "Those two words mean a lot."
After the ceremony, Teff said he was honored to be asked to speak for this solemn occasion.
"There's such great support for our military in the community, I almost feel obligated to be here," he said. "This is a way to give back, to help."
The 2012 Veteran of the Year is Col. Ewin "Sam" Sansom (retired), and Master of Ceremonies Dan Cox accepted the award on his behalf. Sansom couldn't be there, as his wife was recovering in a hospital, Cox said.
Chad Esch was honored as the veteran advocate of the year, Cox said. The owner of Bannan Funeral Home is the first recipient of the new award in recognition of his many contributions to those who served.
"It's extremely humbling to accept this," he said afterward. "It's my honor to always serve veterans and their families."
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