MORRIS – Attending the Morris Veterans Day parade was simply a must for Donna and Paul Livingston of Morris.
“I think it is what we have to do to honor our vets, I really do,” Donna Livingston said.
The Livingstons were among the many people who lined Liberty Street in downtown Morris on Monday morning to watch the parade. Local school bands, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, as well as emergency responders and other community members and organizations, walked in the parade held before the Morris American Legion’s Veterans Day ceremony.
The ceremony was moved from the Grundy County Courthouse to Morris Community High School because of the weather.
“One of the many things that goes into this event is the preparing of the program and my remarks,” said Ken Buck, Commander of the Morris American Legion Post 294. “Each year I consider what to say in a hope that it will have some meaning to each of you gathered here and possibly inspire you in some way.
“This year is no different. This event means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and so today I just thought that I would share some of the things that it means to me.”
Buck started by commenting on the numerous Veterans Day events he attended last week in local schools. It impressed him to see the projects students did to recognize the local heroes and he thanked teachers and administrators for giving the students a true understanding of what Veterans Day is.
“The students showed me that they are learning that Veterans Day is not just another day off with a special sale at their favorite retailer,” Buck said. “They showed me that they understand the big picture, that men and women have severed their country and some have died for the country, and for that these students have the freedoms that we enjoy in this country.”
Buck also noted businesses that have made Veterans Day into a retail holiday offering free or discounted goods to veterans. He challenged them to go further to support veterans and their families all year long with jobs and donations to organizations that help veterans.
He also spoke about what may be considered a less-talked about issue, but what he called a major issue.
“I have also learned more each day about another major issue that we as a society must deal with,” Buck said. “More than one a day. That is how many members of our active-duty military, National Guard and Reserve forces, have committed suicide over the last year.
“Simply put, we are losing more service members by their own hands than we are by the enemy in Afghanistan. Only those who experienced firsthand the horrors of combat can understand why most of these young men and women feel compelled to take such drastic and permanent measures.”
The crowd in the high school’s auditorium proves these veterans are loved and appreciated, Buck said. He encouraged them all to ensure every veteran feels appreciated by acknowledging it with a thank you when they see a veteran, and to watch for signs of unhappiness or depression in the veterans in their lives and encourage them to seek help immediately.
He said the United States has more than 22 million veterans and not all have seen war, and Veterans Day is a time to honor all the men and women who have served in more than 237 years.
“Perhaps most significant in preserving our way of life are the battles that America does not have to fight because those who wish us harm slink away in fear of the Coast Guard cutter, the Navy aircraft carrier, the Air Force fighter squadron or the Army soldier on patrol,” Buck said.
During the ceremony area school bands and choirs performed, the Laying of the Wreaths was done by representatives of the Gold Star Mothers and Families, American Legion Auxiliary and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Elmo Ray Younger of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 86 and Jim Maskel of the John Martin Steele VFW Post 6049 Men’s Auxiliary also made short remarks.