Local citizens and veterans attended the fifth annual Veterans Day Memorial Ceremony, held Nov. 11 in Smith Park.
The ceremony included a wreath-laying on the Veteran’s memorial, a moment of silence, a 21-gun salute and a fly-over tribute, according to a press release sent out by the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
Sean Cannon, a professor at BYU-Idaho who teaches history and political science, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.
Cannon, who served in the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War, spoke toward the end of the ceremony.
“It’s a great opportunity to speak to the community about the responsibilities we all have towards our country,” Cannon said.
Cannon said he was glad to be chosen.
“It’s a great way to remember those who have served in wars overseas and those who have served in all capacities of the military. I think it’s important to be reminded that all of us have responsibilities to contribute to the success of our nation,” Cannon said.
Willis Kortright, the commander of the Veterans of Foreign War post 3012 and a veteran of the National Guard, said that he enjoys the whole ceremony each year, but he especially enjoys when younger generations get involved.
“The best part of the ceremony is when the Madison High School band plays patriotic music. Then we fire a 21-gun salute, while someone plays ‘Taps,’” Kortright said.
Kortright said he is passionate about making sure soldiers are able to return home with pride.
“When we came home, we were called every name in the book. The best part for me today is to help these [young soldiers] get the welcome home that we never got,” Kortright said.
Bob Judy, the senior vice of Post 3012 and a Navy veteran, said he looks forward to the ceremony every year and he hopes people come to the ceremony to pay respect.
“It [is] great to have people come down and sport this as we honor active-duty veterans retired veterans, and the ones that we have lost,” Judy said.
Gary Rogers, the quartermaster of Post 3012 and an Army veteran, said he thinks people have forgotten what soldiers had to endure.
“Any ceremony honoring the veterans is important so people remember how they got their freedom. Most people don’t realize it takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears and lives to keep it,” Rogers said.
Rogers said his time in the Army taught him many valuable lessons.
“Once you’ve gone through your training you realize that just because you think you’ve reached the end of your rope, the end of your physical and mental limits, doesn’t mean you’re done. You can go way beyond your capacity,” Rogers said.
Richard Pingree, the junior vice of Post 3012 and a Navy veteran, said that he enjoyed his 26 years in the service and that he learned many lessons that have carried over to other areas of his life.
“I learned early in my life that the service teaches you organization and the fact that you can handle more pain than you think you can,” Pingree said. “These things probably made my life a lot easier.”
Pingree said he wishes he could be back in the Navy.
“I miss being in the military,” Pingree said. “If they could take me back, if I could pass the physical, I would be back tomorrow. But I think at 72 years old it’s not very likely.”
The VWF Post 3012 meets on the first wednesday of every month.
They are in charge of local veteran affairs according to the VWF Post 3012 website. The veterans provide an environment where veterans can talk about the struggles they have faced in the past, and they are in charge of planning fellow veterans funerals.