By Cassidy Pate, News Editor
It was a special morning as the Belton Senior Activity Center hosted its annual Celebration of Veterans to commemorate Veteran’s Day and honor those who have served, are serving or are planning to serve our country on Friday. Veterans, current service members and their families gathered in the main room to enjoy a program dedicated to their sacrifice and service.
“One of the most important parts of our program every year, the most important part is to have our veterans here, so thank you for that, the veterans and their families,” Jay Taggart, Creator of the Belton Area Citizens for Seniors, Inc, said.
To begin the program, The Belton High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) presented the colors, Taggart led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Belton High School Madrigal, directed by Tonya Lovorn, sang the National Anthem.
Following this, Senior Pastor of Belton First United Methodist Church Jeff Miller gave the invocation, and Madrigal charmed the audience with their performance of two patriotic songs: “Let Freedom Ring” and “America the Beautiful.”
Taggart then introduced the keynote speaker: Brigadier General Darren Werner, Commander of the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command of Fort Hood. Before beginning his speech, General Werner gave appreciation to the Belton High School students who took part in the program, as well as the Belton Senior Activity Center for bringing the audience together.
“This is about the celebration of the great Americans that have come before us, that have served in our nation’s uniform, right?” General Werner said. “A lot of you, you know, we’ve got a lot of veterans in the crowd; you wore the uniform, and those that have worn the uniform, we celebrate you over the next couple of days because without you our nation would not be what it is today.”
General Werner comes from a family of service, so this day is of much importance to him. His grandfather served in WWI, his father served in WWII, he has two uncles that served in the Korean War, and his oldest brother was drafted during Vietnam and served in Germany.
With that, General Werner emphasized the legacy of the army and how the foundation of it is the men and women who serve within it.
“It’s important to carry that legacy on and acknowledge what’s come before you, what has been there before you; the men and women that have served before you are incredible, and our army continues to get better,” General Werner said. “In the army, when you wear the uniform of our nation, you’re a soldier, and that is probably the most profound thing that I’ve always been proud of, to say I’m part of, and it’s not just the soldiers or the sailors or the airmen or the marines: it’s the families.”
Speaking of families, General Werner praised those who have undergone the stress involved with their loved ones leaving to fight for our country.
“For those families that have endured the deployments and the late nights and the unknown…the families are the ones that have to deal with the uncertainty, which is the most challenging thing to deal with,” General Werner said.
Each of the five military branch anthems were then played on the piano by Susan Montgomery, and veterans from were asked to stand during the playing of their branch’s anthem. Following this moment of reflection, the veterans were honored in a presentation, wherein each stepped forward to announce his or her name, rank, branch and receive a penknife.
The families of the veterans in attendance were also recognized before the closing song, “God Bless America,” was played and the Junior ROTC retired the colors.