Founding city Emporia marks Veterans Day

EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) -- November 11th used to be called Armistice Day. Thanks to Emporia, Kansas, the country now marks Veterans Day.

(WIBW/Danielle Martin)

"Some people paid an ultimate sacrifice and if this one gesture that we can do to honor that sacrifice," U.S. Army veteran Michael White said. "I think it's the very least that we can do, especially on this day."

Emporia is credited with renaming November 11th to honor veterans on the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month.

"Being a part of Emporia and being a part of the founding city of Veterans Day, it makes me feel more honored to serve," said KS Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Aaron Goza.

Emporia's VFW Post 1980 Club celebrated veterans who have passed and those who are living Monday with their annual "All Veterans Memorial."

"Sometimes they feel that they are forgotten about, but we just want to make sure that we continue to honor them as veterans." Olpe High School teacher Megan Mcguire said.

Veterans say "thank you" is a simple, but powerful phrase.

"It matters when you hear that, it really does," White said. "You see the people you were fighting for and to hear that is always a good thing, a good feeling to hear."

Many veterans see the red, white, and blue as a symbol of their ultimate sacrifice.

"It means the ability of being apart of America where we can stand up and change our future. We can do things," Goza explained.

"It means a lot to me to know that when I see that flag flying and how many of my friends had that flag draped over their coffin. That symbol of the ultimate sacrifice, every time I hear the National Anthem, I tear up a little bit still," White said.

Veterans say the amount of trauma veterans face must never be taken lightly.

"We lost a lot of soldiers in the last few years both to combat operations and suicide," Goza said.

Many veterans who have PTSD after serving find a hard time talking about their experiences.

"It's a lot harder to take when you can go through that and get back and you got to battle the demons within," White said.

"Especially being a part of the Vietnam War, which historically we know they weren't always welcomed when they came home, it's so important to make sure that those men and women know that we appreciate their sacrifices because they did a lot for our country," McGuire said.

The United States has more than 18.2 million veterans who have served in at least one war as of 2018.