A light snow and cool breeze in Alpena didn't hinder the celebration of United States veterans living and deceased during the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Little Flander's Field Monday. In fact the weather may have provided a reminder of some of harsh conditions soldiers needed to endure through while at war.
Alpena County Veterans Counselor Dan Cox was the master of ceremony for the event, which commenced with the Pledge of Allegiance and with the invocation by Chaplain George Stevens. Then Col. Bryan Teff, who is the commander at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, shared his thoughts about what being in the military and what it means to be a veteran himself.
"Veterans Day is not just a single day, it's a daily inspiration," Teff said. "Being a veteran is a way of life that I'm proud to live and dedicate to my family in arms," Teff said. "As a family of veterans, our common bond is that we love our country and we're extremely proud of our past, present and future military members and all of their past, present and future sacrifices that have been made by them and their families."
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Leonard and Carol Johnsen place a wreath in front of a row of white cross grave markers from soldiers who served and died in World War II. The placement of the wreath was part of a Veterans Day ceremony at Little Flander’s Field in Alpena. At the end of the ceremony Leonard Johnsen was named the 2013 Veteran of the year and received a plaque from Col. Bryan Teff.
Veterans Day is a day of remembrance, celebration and a salute to all who have served in the military. During the ceremony wreaths honoring the soldiers who served and lost their lives in the Civil War through the war in Afghanistan. Wreaths were also placed for the missing in action, prisoners of war and Agent Orange. Once the wreaths were in place there was an honor guard salute with the firing of rifles and the playing of "Taps."
Before the event concluded Teff announced Leonard Johnsen was the Veteran of the Year and presented him a plaque while his wife Carol joined him in front of his peers for a round of applause.
Veterans Day originated from Armistice Day, which was proclaimed an official holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. It was officially changed to Veterans Day in June of 1954 when the United States Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a bill amending the holiday's name.
Cox said he has noticed an increase in the way veterans are supported and appreciated. He said in the past however some veterans did not get the respects they had earned and some were chastised.
"I think there is more of a sense of respect for veterans now. Our Vietnam vets didn't get a lot of recognition and were kind of shunned, but I think the public has come around now and realize the sacrifices our men and women make for the military and the country." Cox said.
Cox said people would not confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. Veterans Day is a day to honor all who served in the military, while Memorial Day honors just the fallen.
Although the weather was on the cold side veterans of all ages and branches of the military gathered, visited and saluted God, America and one another. Teff said only one-percent of the United State's population makes up its military and being a veteran is being a part of a family or fraternity. He wrapped-up his salute with one simple, but important phrase.
"God Bless all of our veterans and the United States of America." Teff said.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.