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News | Oct. 23, 2017

Veterans Day events to honor service members

By Airman 1st Class Valerie Halbert 673d ABW Public Affairs

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 the first commemoration of Armistice Day following World War I.

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations," proclaimed Wilson.

Today Armistice Day is known as Veterans Day, and is a chance to honor the men and women who served and sacrificed for the U.S. armed forces.

This year, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the Anchorage community will come together with multiple events to recognize our veterans.

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will host a Veterans Day ceremony at the National Guard armory on JBER. The event is open to the public and take place on Nov. 11 at 10:30 a.m.

This year, Alaska Army National Guard Chaplain (Col.) Richard Koch, will address the audience at the ceremony.

“Speaking at our annual Veterans Day ceremony is among the top honors of my entire career,” Koch said. “I get a chance to address many veterans in the audience and express immeasurable gratitude.  These are my heroes and I want to convey as best I can, how important they are to me personally and to America as a whole.”

Also happening this year is the third annual Anchorage Veterans Day Parade. The parade is set to begin at 11 a.m. on Nov. 4 and follow a route around the Delaney Park Strip in downtown Anchorage.

Leading the flight of Airmen through the parade is Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Porter, 673d Medical Group first sergeant.

“One of the primary reasons I [volunteered to march] the flight is because I want to help get JBER out into the community,” Porter said. “The parade serves as a visual reminder of how integrated we are with the community and provides the opportunity for relationship building and community relations.”

For Porter, Veterans Day also hits a more personal level.

“Veterans Day is a day to appreciate the people who have gone down this path before us; people like my great-uncle, who commanded tanks during World War II, or my dad who fixed B-52s and KC-135s during the Vietnam War,” Porter said. “It gives us the time to reflect on the adversities they faced and the hardships we don’t have to endure because they did it for us.”

Since 1919, Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11, regardless which day of the week it falls on. To this day, it not only preserves historical significance but brings to light all those who have given the biggest sacrifice.

“It was and continues to be an immense honor to serve with such distinguished people who truly give their all to serve something bigger than themselves,” Koch said. “Every day I can still put on the uniform and serve alongside my heroes embodies a considerable blessing that I never take for granted.”

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