FAIRBORN — Five flags representing the military branches flew just below the American flag downtown Fairborn at the Veterans Memorial to honor and express gratitude to those who served on Veteran’s Day.
“We don’t seek notoriety, but we do think it’s important that people take this day to remember the fact that so many people served our country,” American Legion Post Commander Chuck Knaub said. “This is not the day to remember those who were killed in battle — that’s Memorial Day. Today we honor veterans who served their country, whether for a full career, or those who took two, three, four years out of their lives, served their country and went back to their civilian pursuits. It’s just important to remember the sacrifices veterans make.”
The Wright Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard conducted the Presentation of Colors, Paul Newman Sr. and the Fairborn High School Band led attendees in the National Anthem, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation, the ceremony’s guests were introduced and some, including Mayor and Retired Air Force Colonel Dan Kirkpatrick, Congressman Mike Turner, Representative Rick Perales, Vice Commander of the 88th Air Base Wing Colonel Elena Oberg of WPAFB and Auxiliary President Pat Drake of the American Legion in Fairborn, delivered speeches.
The event additionally included a moment of silence, “for all veterans everywhere, both living and dead,” Knaub said.
Eighth Graders from Baker Middle School then sang “God Bless America” while some of the event’s guests placed a wreath onto the Veterans Memorial, which was followed by a rifle salute by the American Legion’s Honor Guard and Taps.
“It’s important that we pause for just a moment to acknowledge the fact that there are people who serve,” Knaub said. “You might not see them or know they’re there, but they’re all over. I think it’s important, one day a year, to give them thanks. That’s why we do it. If we don’t remember, we’ll forget.”
Oberg reflected on the first time she realized the meaning of Veterans Day during her speech, which she said is about expressing gratitude to those who served. It dawned on her after she was called to deliver a speech at an elementary school years ago in regards to the holiday. It was her first Veterans Day presentation.
She approached the event thinking she would simply talk to the students about rockets, her time in the service and her family’s history of military affiliation, but realized after being greeted by the entire school already filed into place ready for her speech that she was unprepared. However, she still took on the challenge of delivering the speech, ending it by asking the students to find the veterans in their lives and give thanks.
“Our active duty service members today follow the footsteps of those who served before them, and we’re so appreciative of them,” she said.
A ham, beans and cornbread dinner was available at the American Legion following the ceremony.
“I hope people remember the sacrifices,” Knaub said. “Some came, did their time, came back alive; some gave all; some left a part of themselves over there, whatever it was. It’s important to recognize their sacrifices.”