O'Fallon Progress

Mayor encourages veterans to attend events in O’Fallon

O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham
O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham

On Nov. 11, Americans across the county will observe our 62nd annual Veterans Day. It is important to our country that we remember those men and women, both past and present, who fought, and who currently serve to preserve our freedom and the freedom of others.

America has more than 18 million living veterans. These veterans served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and the War on Terrorism. We look to these loyal citizens as examples of honor and patriotism and thank them for their dedication and heroism.

On Friday, Nov. 11, a Veterans Day Program will be held at 11 a.m. at the Veterans’ Monument, 737 East Wesley Dr. The program will include the recognition of the new inscriptions to the monument; a flag raising ceremony; participation from the fifth-grade classes of O’Fallon District 90 schools; St. Clare School and First Baptist Academy choruses; the OTHS AFJ ROTC Program; VFW Post 805; Miss O’Fallon Madeleine Henken; Miss Kay Rubush; and the USAF Honor Guard Rifle Team, in addition to many others.

The featured guest will be Brigadier General Steven J. Berryhill, USAF, Deputy Director, Operations & Plans, US TRANSCOM. Veterans are encouraged to wear their medals and decorations to the program. Please bring your own lawn chairs. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at the First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, 1111 E. US 50. For more information about the ceremony, visit the monument web site at www.ofallonveteransmonument.org.

In addition to the monument ceremony, the 32nd annual O’Fallon Veteran’s Day parade is Nov. 11 beginning at 2 p.m. at the O’Fallon Community Park. The parade will end at the O’Fallon VFW Post 805, 221 W. First St. For more information on the parade, email vetdayparade805@gmail.com or call the VFW Post at 618-624-6575.

I hope you have the opportunity to come out and honor our veterans during our two local events.

As we honor our veterans, it is also important for us to contemplate the historical aspects of Veterans Day. Veterans Day occurs on Nov. 11 because World War I ended on that date in 1918 at 11 a.m. It was the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month and became known as Armistice Day. Later, U.S. Representative Edward H. Rees of Kansas proposed legislation changing the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all those who had served America in all wars.

The first Veterans Day parade was in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1947 to honor “All of America’s veterans for their loyal service.” In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day and called upon Americans everywhere to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace.

Every year the Veterans Day National Ceremony is Nov. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery. At 11 a.m., a color guard made up of members from each of the military services, honors America’s war dead during a traditional ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The president places a wreath at the tomb and a bugler sounds “Taps.” The balance of the ceremony, including a “Parade of Flags” by numerous veterans’ service organizations, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the tomb.

I am proud that so many military personnel, both active duty and retired, have chosen to make O’Fallon their home. These dedicated citizens are a real asset to our community and make invaluable contributions to our quality of life. I sincerely thank them for the service to our country and to our community.