The soft footfalls of three men marching a U.S. flag to and away from the stage were the only sounds heard at the opening and close of Monday’s Veterans Day ceremony.
After the flag was placed in its stand the about 180 veterans, political officials and area citizens and their children, who attended the ceremony at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, broke their silence to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Tradition, remembrance and honor were prevalent throughout the program with the National Anthem, the Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Table Ceremony, the reading of “In Flanders Fields” and “The Wall,” the rifle salute and the playing of taps.
But before the program began, veteran Marty Hall greeted people as they walked in the door. When he took the stage later in the program, he said as a service member he was taught to make observations, and that’s what he did as people walked into the conference room.
Hall observed many vets telling him it was their honor or their pleasure to serve, but he also observed many of his veteran friends were no longer here.
He observed young veterans and challenged them to “pick up the baton” from the veterans of previous generations.
“It’s going to fall to you guys,” Hall said. “There’s a lot that needs to be done.”
Then Hall said he observed non-veterans, many who are family members of vets. He told them veterans appreciate their attendance. The final group Hall observed as he greeted people before the ceremony was children, and he encouraged other attendees to bring their kids.
One young girl who has not only attended, but also participated Veterans Day for about six years is 10-year-old Madeline Edelen, the poppy girl.
Her father, Art Edelen, said the ceremony is a good way for her and other youth to remember and respect veterans.
Madeline said she enjoys being the poppy girl because she likes to see the veterans.
Art Edelen said he thinks Madeline was recruited the first year just because she’s cute, but now she looks forward to being the poppy girl at Veterans Day as well as Memorial Day each year.
“I just love the socks off her,” Sue Coup, auxiliary president at the American Legion, said about Madeline.
She said it’s important for youth to attend the program to learn about veterans.
Art Edelen said both of Madeline’s grandfathers and multiple other relatives have served their county.
“I don’t think we can do enough to honor the sacrifice they’ve made,” Art Edelen said.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.