Brave men and women in uniform are the nation’s most valuable weapon, Lt. Col. Shawn Manley said Saturday on the Allen County Courthouse square to recognize veterans and their contributions.
Manley, commander of the 891st Engineer Battalion, was the speaker for the local Veterans Day observance. A free bean feed and parade followed.
“Today is a chance to thank those who have answered the call of duty, and to remember those who have served,” Manley said. “Any morning we wake up on free land, it’s because of men and women who have served.”
Families of veterans also were recognized, their “service marked by unwavering support to their loved ones who are in harm’s way,” he said. They, and all others, “may not carry a rifle on their shoulder, but they have carried the weight of worry. They carry the burden until their loved one returns home.”
Manley called veterans “ordinary people who have been placed in extraordinary circumstances” and “know the true meaning of courage.”
During the ceremony black balloons were released to recognize service personnel who remain missing in action, from wars in Vietnam and Korea.
During the parade, a contingent of 891st soldiers had their hands full. They marched with a huge U.S. flag stretched from one side of the street to the other. A stiff south wind tested their strength and endurance. Bands from Iola and Humboldt high schools also marched in the parade.
AT THE START of the event Alfred Link, retired National Guard sergeant major and a leader on the Iola Veterans Committee, noted that Iola’s veterans celebration was revived in 1989, making Saturday’s the 23rd since.
The first was impromptu revelry that erupted on Nov. 11, 1918, when announcement of World War I’s end reached Iola. Factory whistles blew and Iolans gathered downtown, with the celebration going on well into the night.
Nov. 11 was designated Armistice Day in 1919 and came to include veterans of all wars when it became All Veterans Day in 1954. Iola’s annual observance ended in the late 1950s, then, as Link observed, was revived in 1989.