On the 11th hour on the 11th day in 1918 on the battlefields of France, World War I ended.
That day in history is now commemorated with Veteran's Day and in recognition the Celebration of Freedom held its annual Veteran's Day Program Monday in the El Dorado Middle School auditorium.
Rick Glaves, chaplain for the American Legion Post 81 in El Dorado, gave the opening prayer, giving thanks for all who have served and their great sacrifices. He also lifted up the current servicemen and women and the country.
A special recognition was given to the Desert Shield and Desert Storm veterans, then all veterans in attendance were recognized, along with the Blue Star families and Gold Star families, as well as the active duty and reservists in attendance.
The guest speaker for the event was Chief Master Sgt. John Davis, Jr., United States Air Force retired. Davis has received 22 military awards and decorations.
He opened with a poem a friend of his had read at a retirement. It was written by Charles Province and said,
"It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag."
"This nation is a great nation," Davis said, "because of the veteran who is willing to go out and give his life."
He went on to talk about the history of Veteran's Day, originally Armistice Day in honor of WWI veterans. After World War II, it was changed to honor all veterans, something he said Kansas had a big part in. It was a representative from Emporia who pushed the bill and Dwight D. Eisenhower who signed it into law.
Support of veterans was something, Davis said was important.
"Military personnel and veterans have a lot of support," he said. "Whether you like the president or not, he has done a lot for veterans."
Page 2 of 2 - He said the president has made it easier to transition from active duty to the V.A., offered more treatment for PTSD and worked to get veterans skilled jobs.
Davis said more companies are working to hire veterans and more restaurants are now opening their doors to veterans on Veteran's Day.
"The support is out there," he said. "We can't be soldiers and fight wars without public support.
"When we get out of the service we need one of those things called a J-O-B," he continued. "There are a lot of businesses today helping veterans find jobs."
He also talked about how the media portrays things and some of the images out there. He said the Taliban will go out and shoot women and children and throw them on the rubble after an attack and take a photo to say see what you did.
Davis went on to talk about suicide rates among veterans. Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide. That was growing at a 2.6 percent rate from 2005 to 2011.
"There are a lot of homeless out there," he continued. "Twenty-five percent of those are veterans and 75 percent have psychological challenges.
"We as veterans have to look out for one another. We train to look out for one another. I think it's really important we take this to hear and have to look out for one another."
He also said they need to stand up for the principals the country is founded on and to protect these biblical values.
"Veteran's Day is our day," he said. "Go out and enjoy it and enjoy this beautiful weather."
Julie Clements can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.