FORT SILL, Okla._Dozens gathered at Fort Sill Monday to cherish all of the veterans who have worn our nation's uniform.
Fort Sill's commanding general, Major General John Rossi, spoke at the ceremony, saying Veterans Day is a time of tribute, reflection and celebration. The Marine Corp Color Guard held flags representing all five branches of the military. Two Lawton Public School students also read essays as part of the VFW's essay contest to recognize veterans.
For many veterans and enlisted personnel, Veterans Day is a time of reflection on the memories, sacrifices and accomplishments during their time in the military. Historically speaking, with every step they take they are walking in the footsteps of those who came before them.
Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5263 Jim Meeks says Veterans Day is very emotional for him when he thinks of the fellow soldiers who lost their lives in battle.
"Pride in the fact that everyone was willing to step up and make the sacrifice, but you know it makes you want to cry sometimes because you can't have that person standing next to you anymore," Meeks said.
Meeks says one of his favorite memories from his 20 years of service in the Air National Guard, Army Reserves and active duty Army is when he was the commander of a unit for seven months.
"It is not very often that an enlisted guy gets to take command, but they deployed and I got chosen to stay back. So, it's the one deployment in the military that I didn't go on. But being a commander is a unique experience, especially for an enlisted person," Meeks said.
Sergeant Major Edward Estep served with Meeks and is still currently serving at Fort Sill. He wants veterans to know that they are still a part of the family that is the U.S. military.
"It's how we take care of our own. And just because they are retired, does not mean that they are forgotten and where I work, there are a lot of veterans still serving," Sgt. Maj. Estep said.
Sergeant Major Estep says knowing that he will eventually retire after serving in the Army for the last 25 years makes Veterans Day bitter sweet.
"There are a lot of emotions. To look back on your career and see what you have done and known that you have contributed in some small way, but really it's just thanking those that have served," Sgt. Maj. Estep said.
This year marks the 97th year that Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, has been observed since the end of World War I.
The Comanche County Veterans Council will be holding a ceremony at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday. The ceremony will be at Elmer Thomas Park, located at the America's Wars monument near Lake Helen.
Cameron University is honoring veterans at Veterans Grove on campus, north side of Howell Hall, with a moment of silence and reading of the names of the lives lost since Veterans Day 2014. The ceremony starts at 1:00 p.m. Cameron University and Sodexo are providing a complimentary meal to active duty military and veterans from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
Sunset Memorial Gardens is hosting a Veterans Day ceremony at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Veterans Field of Honor at Sunset Memorial Gardens, 8900 Cache Road.
The Armed Services YMCA is hosting an art contest and reception from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at the ASYMCA, 900 NW Cache Rd.