Saluting veterans

Krystle Wagner • Nov 12, 2015 at 8:00 AM

The Eternal Flame flickered as veterans and community members gathered on Wednesday in honor of Veterans Day.

“Today, we honor all men and women who have served as well as those currently serving in our country’s armed forces,” said Bob Wydeck, commander of the American Legion Charles A. Conklin Post 28 in Grand Haven. "We as a nation have set aside this 11th day of the 11th month of each year, Veterans Day, so all of us can pause from our daily lives to say thank you to those who served our country.”

U.S. Air Force veteran Duane Smith said serving his country were among the best four years of his life. Smith, 69, who served as a chaplain's assistant in the military, now serves as the chaplain at the local American Legion post as a way to give back and encourage veterans and their families.

Smith said Veterans Day is a time to recognize the sacrifices on the battlefields and the sacrifices made on the homefront.

"Everybody gave a lot," he said.

With more than a dozen residents gathered at Wednesday morning's ceremony alongside veterans, Smith said the community represents the nation well in honoring its veterans.

"This community has a very, very patriotic core," U.S. Navy veteran Howard Brown added.

Brown was 18 when he joined the Navy toward the end of the Vietnam War. Now 58, he served eight years in the Navy and 12 years in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.

While he appreciates the community's support, Brown said he would like to see a larger celebration surrounding Veterans Day in the future.

"It's an important holiday that's been forgotten," he said.

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