Service members remember veterans

From left, Senior Airman Jared Barlett, 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, Senior Airman Amber Metts, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering technician, Staff Sgt. Dezarae Slivers, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering technician, and Staff Sgt. Ismael Rodriguez, 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, unfurls the American flag during a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Paul Labbe)

Ceremony recalls end of World War I

Senior Airman Eric Summers Jr. 

379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

 SOUTHWEST ASIA — World War I, also known as the Great War, officially ended on June 28, 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. But the hostile fighting and exchange of bullets ended several months earlier when an armistice, a temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

What marked the unofficial end of World War I is now regarded as a national holiday among multiple nations and was commemorated by members of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and partner units as a combined Armistice Day, Remembrance Day and Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11, 2011, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

“Today we commemorate all conflicts and all those who have suffered for their cause,” said Royal Air Force Air Commodore Ashley Stevenson, Air Officer Commanding 83 Expeditionary Air Group and United Kingdom Air Component Commander, during his remarks at the ceremony. “Modern conflict of course is no less grisly than that of earlier wars and despite state-of-the-art training, equipment and medical facilities the death toll from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to mount.”

Veterans Day, which became a legal holiday in the United States in 1954, commemorates American veterans of all conflicts.

“To me it means honoring those Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors that paved a way for the younger generation by fighting the wars,” said Army Sgt. Wallace Jacox, Bravo 2-43 Air Defense Artillery, deployed from Fort Bliss, Texas.

The Chicago, Ill., native also said the day is important because without the veterans who fought on the beaches of Normandy, “we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. We wouldn’t have freedoms that we have today.”

“Wearing the uniform is no small task. It takes a special person to wear any service’s uniform — to do the job that we do, day in and day out,” Jacox said. “Even for those who separated last year, [who] did their job time, it’s still important to honor those guys because they had the guts to enlist on their own free will to serve their country.”

Out of the estimated 300 million people in the United States, less than 1 percent has served or is serving in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

“Because only a certain percent of the U.S. population joins the military, not a lot of people can say, ‘Yeah I’ve been there, I’ve been to the Middle East, and to be in the military and be part of something bigger than themselves,” said Staff Sgt. Clara Glynn, 379th Comptroller Squadron budget analysis NCO in charge, deployed from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. “Being part of the military makes me feel more appreciative of life itself and has showed me that there’s something other than Kodiak, Alaska.”

Glynn said she wasn’t just appreciative but also thankful.

“I feel fortunate to honor all our military folks: past, present and future,” the Kodiak, Alaska, native said. “I feel proud and privileged to be amongst that one percent.”

The Air Commodore also said that while the nirvana of peace and stability throughout the world regrettably still eludes us, it must remain the aspiration of every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine to work toward that state by standing firm for liberty and justice.

“For many of the survivors, theirs will be a generation visually identifiable by significant loss of limb,” Stevenson said. “But let us not forget the hidden injuries they almost certainly bear in addition. Today we continue to witness many incredible acts of selflessness, courage, and the determination not to squander the privileges afforded us by the sacrifices of those who have gone before remains undiminished.”

Col. Kevin Kennedy, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander concluded the ceremony with a few parting thoughts.

“As we depart, it is important to note that just as we stand together across this theater in a unified effort to defeat those who threaten the freedom of our nations and the people of Afghanistan, it is fitting and proper that we also stand together at this retreat to remember and honor the sacrifice of our nations’ veterans who defended our freedoms, some with their last full measure of devotion,” he said.

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