PUBLISHED: 8:10 PM on Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Veterans Day a time of honor
Veterans Day has been celebrated in the United States of America as a legal holiday for almost seven decades. It was originally known as Armistice Day and set aside as a day to honor those in World War I.

In 1954, after World War II required the greatest number of people to serve, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to honor veterans of all wars. Veterans Day is officially recognized on the 11th month on the 11th day at the 11th hour, to commemorate the signing of the Armistice that ended WWI, also known as the Great War, on Nov. 11, 1918.

People across the nation celebrate this day with passion and thanksgiving.

Though it is a day to remember all veterans from many different wars, it is a day largely meant to honor the living veterans for their service and acknowledge what has been contributed to the national security of our country.

The official Veterans Day observance in Juneau will be conducted at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11.

This ceremony will take place at Centennial Hall and is being presented by the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 4 with assistance from the Auke Bay American Legion Post.

Each year the Congressional Chartered Organizations take turns rotating the responsibility of the observance ceremony. These organizations consist of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 4, Veterans of Foreign Wars-Taku Post and Auke Bay American Legion.

Juneau's ceremony will be a brief but meaningful and consisting of songs including the National Anthem and an introduction by Commander of the DAV Howard Colbert.

As people watch the Posting of the Colors, or placing of the American and State flags, done by the 17th district Coast Guard Color Guard, emotions will certainly flow in all directions.

"Veterans Day is a grateful salute to people who have laid down their lives for us. We should never forget who is responsible for everything Americans enjoy every day," said Tim Armstrong, Senior Vice Commander of D.A.V.

Take a walk around Juneau and you are bound to pass someone who is a Veteran or who knows a Veteran.

That person you pass in the grocery store, or the person who you help or helps you at work could just be someone who has helped bring you your everyday freedom.

"We have Veterans in Juneau who have fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the current War on Terrorism," Armstrong said.

"Rarely has there been a time when there hasn't been someone out there protecting our country. It's not something to be taken lightly."

Communities all around Southeast celebrate in their own ways, but all on the same day at the same hour. Sitka has a small parade with a color guard, American Legion members, Auxiliary, and others.

They will also have a dinner for Veterans.

Gene Burton of the Sitka American Legion Post talks from experience when he says that becoming a Veteran is life changing.

"Most people don't really appreciate the sacrifice that all veterans went through. Young adults go into combat and when they come back they aren't a kid anymore. They're changed forever. When they come back changed like this it shows how much they sacrifice for freedom."

Burton said that Veterans Day is meant to show appreciation of the freedom we now have due to veterans, starting with the First World War up to the present day.

"There is a young man I knew who was in his early 20s that came back from Iraq and was on life support. He didn't have any limbs anymore. He asked them to take him off the life support; he didn't want to live as a vegetable and had done his duty. He realized that he was done," Burton said.

"I'm a veteran who is 67 and he was a young man who lost the rest of his life for his country. He died that night. That kind of thing hits you hard. The weapons used these days are of a harsher kind as well."

"It would be nice if people would just stop when they are walking down the street or wherever and realize what they have was brought by veterans. We take a lot for granted."

At the Ketchikan American Legion Post this Veterans Day they will be hosting an open house and serve the traditional pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. before a memorial service is held at Centennial Square by the flag pole, weather permitting.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars have a brunch every year and there is usually a guest speaker or politician booked to speak. Though a memorial service is held, Marshal Pratt of the Ketchikan Post said that for a lot of people, Veterans Day gets confused with the purpose of Memorial Day.

"Veterans Day is for the past and present Veterans," he said. "A lot of people concentrate heavily on the memorial service and we're trying to change that perspective. It is largely a day to honor the living as well."

No matter where you are in on the 11th hour on the 11th day of this November, take a moment to look around you and acknowledge the ones who have helped bring you the life you live.

Ceremonies will be taking place in all towns providing the opportunity to honor veterans as a community.

For more information, go online to, or