Salinans gathered on a cold and blustery Monday morning at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in the memory of a Salina veteran to honor all other veterans.
A respectful crowd braved the cold weather and gathered for Veterans Day ceremonies at the Salina / Saline County War Memorial in Sunset Park. Among those in the crowd were veterans and their family and friends, area students, and citizens simply wanting to show respect.
As the event began Retired Army Lt. Col. Richard Fisher, who is the commander of Salina Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1432 and the Salina Disabled American Veterans organization, announced the ceremony was in memory of Jack Gallagher, who passed away last December.
Jack Gallagher for the last 43 years served as the Sgt at Arms for Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies. His spirit was alive Monday, though, in the form of his 10-year-old grandson. Cooper Gallagher, dressed in a miniature Marine uniform, joined Sgt at Arms Dan Pestinger, standing at attention and holding his grandfather’s hat the entire time.
The guest speaker was Maj. Scott Blechle from the 184th Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard. Blechle, who commands the Smoky Hill Weapons Range, spoke about the history of veterans day.
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.
Blechle, using quotes from a 1941 Franklin Roosevelt Veterans Day speech, noted similarities in the mood of the country at the period in time just prior to World War II to the mood today.
The event in Salina on Monday included the National Anthem, echoing “Taps” played on trumpets, a 21 gun salute, and a moment of silence.
The gathering in Salina was on the 101st anniversary of the end of World War I.
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