Veterans Day observed at Kadena

by Airman 1st Class Lynette M. Rolen, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Service members from all branches of the United States armed forces gathered here Nov. 11, to commemorate Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is dedicated to honoring those who have served their country or are currently serving to protect the citizens of the U.S. and its allies.

"The flag stands for peace, honor, truth, justice, and freedom," said Airman 1st Class William Winter, 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron non-destructive inspection apprentice and master of ceremony for Kadena's Veterans Day ceremony. "The flag has been torn to strips and used as bandages for wounded combatants on the battlefield. It has been placed in the trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of their fallen son or daughter."

The highlight of the Veterans Day ceremony was the delivery of the U.S. flag by a 33rd Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pavehawk. A 31st Rescue Squadron pararescueman rappelled out of the helicopter and hand-delivered the flag to the Kadena Honor Guard. Additionally, each branch of the armed forces recited their creed to honor their veterans.

The ceremony honored those service members of yesterday, and heroes of today, who even as of this moment have been willing to put themselves in harm's way to protect the ideas that we as a nation hold dear, said Brig. Gen. Barry Cornish, 18th Wing commander.

It is with the sacrifice and commitment of veterans that we can enjoy freedoms and liberties as Americans.

"Veterans understand service and sacrifice," said Brent Cook, retired U.S. Marine Corps sergeant major and Kadena USO center manager. "Veterans have paid for the freedoms Americans enjoy with sweat and blood. And at the same time, veterans have been unable to enjoy those same freedoms. America has the greatest military in the world, hands-down second to none. Some view a strong military as a sign that America loves war. On the contrary, a strong military is a deterrent from war. And veterans know this the best."

President Woodrow Wilson originally instituted Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of their country during World War I. The title then changed in 1954, under Dwight Eisenhower's presidency, to Veterans Day. Along with this title change came a core change as well. It was established to honor veterans from all U.S. conflicts.

"If you think about it, in the history of our country, only a relative few have worn our nation's cloth, sworn themselves to protect it, and been buried under its flag," said Cornish. "My faith tells me that there is no greater love than she who would lay down her life for her brother. We know this to be true."

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