Veterans Day: Memories of the past echo around Belleville Public Square

News-DemocratNovember 11, 2013 

Veterans Day celebration in downtown Belleville.

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Just as the sound echoed around the Belleville Public Square on Monday morning, so did the memories of the many past ceremonies honoring veterans that have been held there.

"The events on this day remind me of the long history of this public square and the many times we have welcomed soldiers returning home or said goodbye to those going off to serve," said Mayor Mark Eckert.

More than 300 people gathered on the square for the ceremony to honor veterans, past and present. Col. Kyle J. Kremer, commander of the 375th Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base, was the guest speaker.

"We pause to honor those who served before us or who no longer are among us, as well as the people who serve today," he said.

He spoke of his grandfather, a bombardier in a B-17 during World War II who kept mementos and an extensive log of his days overseas.

"He was quietly proud of his service but he never volunteered stories on his own," Kremer said. "But if you would ask him he would tell you." His grandfather was the lead bombardier for a mission on July 25, 1944 that began the Allied breakout from the Normandy invasion, he said.

"One of the things that made the greatest generation great was that they never thought they were special," he said. "But their service and sacrifice inspired generations to come."

Bob Ellison, retired Air Force command master sergeant, sang stirring renditions of "The National Anthem," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," and "God Bless the USA."

The ceremony also recognized winners of the Belleville Public School District 118 poster and essay contests and veterans' organizations in attendance.

Afterward, attendees munched on refreshments at a reception courtesy of the Art on the Square Committee.

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