JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) -- Families lined the streets as members of law enforcement and Fort Riley soldiers led the way in Junction City’s Fourth of July parade. Local organizations also took part in the event, kicking off the annual Independence Day celebration called Sundown Salute.
"We’re a military town. We have a lot of military here today, plus the people of Junction City and those from surrounding communities. They’re just all out here having a great time today," said Junction City Mayor Cecil Aska.
After the parade, there was a solemn moment during a memorial for veterans at Heritage Park at the Kansas Vietnam Veterans Memorial, honoring those who have fought and sacrificed for our freedoms and the everyday heroes in our communities.
"Our independence is not made certain only by soldiers. Heroes live among us, in our communities, in our schools, in our churches. They live simple and unassuming lives, offering a hand to their neighbors when it is required and humbly accepting no more than what they need," said Major General Paul Funk, Commanding General of Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division, during the ceremony.
"The phenomenon of heroism has always originated and will continue to originate with the members of our communities. It is the human condition, the way some of us are," he added.
Funk encouraged those in attendance to recognize the heroes in their own lives- people he referred to as the "fabric of our society."
"Just thank a fireman or a police officer or a coach or a teacher. That’s what this is about recognizing that we are the greatest country on earth because we take care of each other," he told WIBW.
Sundown Salute continues Friday and Saturday with activities and entertainment in downtown Junction City.
"On this 237th anniversary of our independence, we continue to celebrate more than two centuries of freedom," the general said Thursday.