An honor guard comprised of members of American Legion Post 20 and VFW Post 10046 performs a rifle salute during Veterans Day observances at the Soldotna Sports Center Sunday.
Photo by Will Morrow
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the central Kenai Peninsula community, along with other communities around the country, paused to honor all those who have served.
"Each and every one of us ... is so very proud of the way in which each and every one of you has served," said Borough Mayor John Williams during his remarks at a Veterans Day observance Sunday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
"To all of you, from all of us, thank you for your service," Williams said.
Sunday's ceremonies recognized not only veterans of past campaigns, but also the many soldiers who have just recently attained veteran status. The ranks of veterans are growing as soldiers are deployed around the world.
VFW member Bob Myles participates in a flag folding ceremony during Sunday's observances.
Photo by Will Morrow
Maj. Martin Hanson, an Alaska National Guardsman who recently returned from Kuwait, shared a phrase he heard frequently during his unit's deployment: "The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten."
Hanson said soldiers tend to minimize their own contributions and glorify the contributions of others. But, he said, every contribution, from the frontline soldier to all those serving in supporting roles, are essential to the success of any campaign.
"Doing your job made you a hero in someone else's eyes," Hanson said, asking all veterans to look into their own hearts and acknowledge their own heroism.
"We are all heroes," Hanson said.
Hanson also expressed appreciation for families and friends back home who not only send letters and care packages to troops in the field, but also take care of responsibilities so that each soldier can focus just on his or her job.
"Allow yourself to appreciate what you have done as much as we do," Hanson said. "Every soldier knows that being in two places at once makes things that much tougher."
Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey urged the community to continue to support veterans by insisting that the services they need be adequately funded.
Sunday's ceremonies included a POW-MIA remembrance. An empty chair and a small table with a place-setting for one were placed on the dais, with items symbolic of the hardships endured by a prisoner of war. The table also included a candle, symbolizing the hope that the soldier will one day return home.
A flag-folding ceremony was conducted, and the local veterans organizations laid memorial wreaths on a mock grave. An honor guard of members of American Legion Post 20 and VFW Post 10046 performed a rifle salute, and taps was played.
VFW Post 10046 Commander Jim Fassler, master of ceremonies, concluded the gathering with a pledge to support the men and women serving in harm's way.
"As long as they are fighting for us, we will support them," Fassler said. "They are our newest veterans."
Will Morrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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