Salinans gathered on a bright, cool, Friday morning at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month to honor all veterans, and to honor one in particular.
The annual Veterans Day Ceremony in Salina was the final one for a man who has participated for the last four decades. After serving for 44 years as the sergeant-at-arms for Memorial Day and Veterans Day Ceremonies in Salina, it was Jack Gallagher’s last ceremony.
Gallagher entered the Marine Corps in 1950. He retired after serving in both Korea and Vietnam. After retiring from the Marines, Gallagher began a second career as a Salina Police Officer. He then served and protected Salina for 22 years before again retiring.
Among those in the large crowd at the Veterans Day ceremony at the Saline County War Memorial in Sunset Park were veterans and their family and friends, students from St. John’s Military School and Southeast of Saline schools, and citizens simply wanting to show respect.
Salina Mayor Kaye Crawford spoke. She spoke about the meaning of Veterans Day, and the gratitude of thanks that we owe to all who have served. She also spoke about her late husband, a veteran himself, who she lost this past summer after over 50 years together.
After the Mayor finished speaking, American Legion Commander Stan Britt made the surprise announcement that it was Gallagher’s final ceremony as sergeant-at-arms.
Along with a certificate, an emotional Gallagher was also presented a patriotic quilt sewn specially for him. The 84-year-old Gallagher told KSAL News that he has simply been doing his duty all of these years, and that he was surprised and humbled to be honored.
The event in Salina on Friday included patriotic music including the National Anthem, Taps, and a 21 gun salute followed by a moment of silence.
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.
In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
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