MOUNT VERNON — The entire ceremony only took a few minutes, but more than 100 people braved the chill wind on an otherwise pleasant day to honor American military veterans.
There were veterans in their VFW, American Legion or AMVETS hats and jackets, there were vets wearing patches or parts of uniforms to commemorate their service, there were the members of the Knox County Career Center ROTC unit, there were local politicians and those who simply wanted to take a few minutes to honor those who have served.
The ceremony began at 11 a.m., commemorating the time — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month — when the guns fell silent to end what was then known as “The War to End War” or “The Great War.”
Unfortunately, World War I was not an end to war and in 1954, after World War II and Korea, Congress changed Armistice Day, set aside to honor veterans of World War I, to Veterans Day, honoring veterans of all wars.
State Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl, R-90, was the keynote speaker. She noted that she is not a veteran, but talked about her father, a World War II veteran.
“He’s the reason I’m standing here,” she said.
His service, and the service of all veterans like him, she said, “is the reason we can gather and enjoy the freedoms we have.”
She said he didn’t talk much about his service, but he made lifelong friends and she remembered a trip to Texas as a child to visit one of those friends.
“I’m thankful for what veterans do. I’m thankful every day,” she said.
Prior to Ruhl’s speech, a representative of the Gold Star Mothers placed a wreath at the base of the Civil War monument, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed flowers and a Poppy Cross was placed by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary.
The Mount Vernon High School Band played the national anthem and an armed forces medley.
The ceremony concluded with a 21-rifle salute from Knox County Veterans Council and “Taps” played by a Mount Vernon High School senior band member.