Weatherford College and the city of Weatherford joined the rest of the nation Nov. 11 in thanking veterans for their service throughout the years by raising not just the United States and Texas flags but also the flags of each branch of the military.
College students and faculty used their time from their classes to watch the ceremony while other citizens wearing red, white and blue or military dress joined them at the college campus’ Ed Kramer Flag Plaza.
"I think many Americans take freedom for granted," said WC President and veteran Kevin Eaton, pointing out that about 1.3 million men and women have given the ultimate sacrifice for that freedom. "We just assume when we wake up every morning; we go about our day in the comfort of the freedom."
Frank Martin, WC Board of Trustees chair and a veteran himself, reviewed the history of Veterans’ Day, which was first in remembrance of the cease fire declared near the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. But now the day honors all veterans.
Chuck Katlic, a veteran from World War II’s Battle of the Bulge after being drafted at 19 years old, expressed his apologies to the Vietnam veterans who did not receive a warm welcome and the honor they were due.
"We will never let it happen again," Katlic said.
A color guard presented the U.S. and Texas flags and the Weatherford College Choir under Rob Laney led those in attendance in singing the National Anthem. Representatives of the military branches or their families then posted the military flags as the branch’s medleys played.
"You’re a member of an elite group who had the courage to say ‘I will serve,’" Martin said. "You’ll always be able to say that you are part of the legacy that founded this nation and keeps it strong for your family and for your children and for their children."
Martin encouraged veterans to continue to remember their country and find ways to better the nation for future generations.
"We need to be an example to those who come behind us," Martin said.
During the ceremony, a wreath was presented to honor past and current soldiers who sacrifice while Hunter Burt played Amazing Grace on bagpipes.
"I’m proud of each and every one of you that have served and that are serving," said Sophie Clark from the Parker County Judge’s office.
Clark, a military spouse and self-declared army brat, then lead the crowd in singing God Bless America.
"Not for fame or reward, not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity, but in simple obedience to duty," Ralph Willingham, director of admissions and VA Affairs at WC, quoted from the inscription on the confederate memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Israel Gonzales and Army Sgt. Justin Rose then read the names of soldiers killed in action in recent years with ties to Weatherford or Parker County. Flowers were given to family members while a bell chimed for each name.
"Are you grateful today? Are you thankful to live in this country today?"asked Brent Baker, WC vice president of institutional advancement, after the names were read and T aps played. "If you don’t have a chill up your spine you might want to check your pulse."
The WC Howlin’ Brass also played and Doug Jefferson sang America the Beautiful as the audience expressed gratitude to the veterans present and absent.
"As we stand here on this beautiful day, in your mind you can visualize the millions of veterans who went before us, beginning with the minute men," Martin said. "And down through history, they say thank you for continuing to serve your nation. For keeping the legacy of military service alive and honorable.
"You have shown not only to your fellow man and fellow countrymen, but to yourself, that you have the courage and the will and the determination to do your duty."