ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – World War I officially ended on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. In the decades since, Americans have come to commemorate the armistice by remembering all veterans who’ve served.
The Veterans Days Program has been a tradition in Rochester for 19 years, allowing the community to come together to reflect and acknowledge the sacrifices across the decades by our veterans.
“I have a great deal of respect and honor for the veterans in our county – many of whom are in this room,” Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said, addressing the full room at the Rochester International Event Center.
The Bells for Eternity, rung Monday, are rung at other commemorations like Memorial Day as well. Bell ringers Glen and June Miller are both World War 2 veterans – Glen serving in the Marine Corps and June in the Navy.
While many spend time thanking veterans still alive – the couple urges folks to also remember those who are no longer with us.
“I want them to honor those who didn’t make it,” Glen said. “We’re okay. But they are the ones that you should be mindful of it and how it happened.”
Glen carried a flag with him that was kept with his unit during every battle it fought in the Pacific during World War II.
Among the speakers Monday – Senator and Presidential Candidate Amy Klobuchar. Klobuchar herself is the daughter of a Korean War veteran.
“There is nothing more liberating than fighting for a cause larger than yourself. That’s what you do for our country and that’s what you do everyday,” Senator Klobuchar said. “All veterans have one thing in common: a deep love for our country and a patriotism that goes way beyond simply feeling pride. All veterans were willing to lay down their lives for our nation and many continue, including in the great community of Rochester and surrounding areas, to live out this great notion of service in your communities once your time served is over.”
Also in attendance – state Senator Clara Nelson and state Representative Dave Senjum.
“Veterans day is an important time to look back at the sacrifice but also a time to look forward to what we must do to stand by our veterans and stand by those who serve,” Senator Klobuchar continued.
The main speaker for the morning, was the Cemetery Administrator Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Robert Gross.
“The bonds that we share among our brothers and sisters of service are as strong as the bonds of blood and lasts long after our military discharges are signed,” Gross said.
While some showed appreciation to service members, others were reflective.
“Well, it’s pretty emotional, really,” June said. “The memorial down at Soldiers Field has 17 of my classmates from Winona High School on that wall. So, I think about them.”
Glen, bouncing off of his wife of nearly 73 years he adds it’s important to recognize those who are no longer with us.
“I want them to honor those who didn’t make it,” Glen said. “We’re okay, but they are the ones that you should be mourn a little bit and how it happened.”
Gross concluded his message by saying, “no veteran truly ever dies so long as they are remembered by a grateful nation.”
KTTC thanks all veterans for their service.