As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue, more and more people are developing a stronger understanding of the sacrifices veterans have made for their country and attendance at the Soldotna Veterans Day ceremony has swelled, says Herb Stettler, service officer at the Soldotna Veterans of Foreign War Post No. 10046.
In addition, this year marks the third year that a local Veterans Day ceremony will be held indoors, making the event accessible to all and providing participants an opportunity to give the event the time and respect it deserves, he said.
Since the event moved indoors to the Soldotna Sports Center, attendance has trippled and the ceremony has lengthened from about 30 minutes to an hour, he said.
“If we had 75 people when it was outdoors we had a good crowd because it’s always been cold,” he said. “And since we’ve gone inside the crowd has grown to 300.”
The ceremony’s indoor location makes it easier for participants to see and hear.
“‘Cause if there was a little bit of wind or anything when it was outdoors, most people couldn’t hear,” said Stettler, who has volunteered to help organize this year’s event. “Every year they would say ‘Gee, we couldn’t hear what you were saying.’”
Veterans Day, once known as Armistice Day, originally marked the signing of the World War I peace treaty on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, and was renamed Veterans Day after World War II.
In keeping with tradition, the Soldotna Veterans Day ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.
This year’s Veterans Day ceremony, hosted by AMVETS Post No. 4, is jointly celebrated each year by the AMVETS post, the American Legion Post No. 20 in Kenai and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 10046 in Soldotna, which take turns hosting the event.
In addition to a series of traditional symbolic ceremonies honoring veterans, this year’s event will also feature several speakers, including Lt. Gov. Loren Leman and Dave Caswell, office manager at the Kenai Veterans Center.
Caswell said Veterans Day gives Americans an opportunity to respect current veterans and remember future ones.
“We really need to remember and support our active-duty military as well as our veterans,” he said.
“The veterans paid the price before and now those active-duty veterans are paying the price today ... those folks that are over there right now. They’re the veterans of tomorrow.”
Saturday’s Veterans Day ceremony will be followed by an open house at the AMVETS post in the Red Diamond Center in Soldotna.
Patrice Kohl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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