TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A 21-gun salute fired by the We-Ta-Se Post 410 Color Guard pierced the frigid air this November 11.
The We-Ta-Se men of the Prairie Band Pottawatomie Nation, members of the American Legion Post 421, veterans and grateful citizens came together at the Great Overland Station to honor all those who have served this country.
Major Jeff Howell, a signal officer with the Kansas Army National Guard, says many veterans from previous wars may be reluctant to show their pride in their service.
"My father, being a marine vet, would never wear anything that would display that he was ever in the service," he said.
Howell says it took his father years to publicly show his pride.
"The title 'veteran' must be earned," Howell told an audience of several dozen men and women, veterans and their families.
"It's a title that speaks to their courage and sacrifice in the face of mortal danger," he said. "It's a title that speaks to our love of country," he said.
Still it was tough for some to talk about their own memories of the wars they've fought in.
"Some days are diamonds, some days are stones," Richard Baldwin, a member of American Legion Post 421, said. But there isn't a day he doesn't think about those tough times. "It's a memory that never goes away," he said.
Baldwin has served two tours in Vietnam. He says it's difficult to speak of his experience with to those who haven't seen combat.
"Right now our biggest support needs to go to our current conflict, young women and men, that are coming home and are trying to transition back to civilian life," he said.
Baldwin said he hopes the ceremony at Great Overland Station this Veterans Day lets Topekans know they can honor veterans every day.
"We are honoring our veterans but along with that we're hoping we'll bring a lot more awareness to the All Veterans Memorial that is located here at Great Overland Station."
"I think we need a little more awareness that Shawnee County does honor, constantly, all year long, the service of the veterans that keep our nation free," he said.