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GF honors U.S. veterans

More than 100 people, young and old, gathered in front of the Grand Forks County Courthouse on Wednesday morning to honor veterans who served their country.

Veterans Day
Sam Campbell, Grand Forks, a retired Air Force veteran, remembers the fallen during the Veterans Day observance Wednesday at the Grand Forks County Courthouse.Herald photo by John Stennes.

More than 100 people, young and old, gathered in front of the Grand Forks County Courthouse on Wednesday morning to honor veterans who served their country.

"We honor all the living and the dead who served our country so that we may live in peace and enjoy our freedom," said Pastor Harvey Hoiberg, a World War II veteran. "Thank you for our beloved country."

Brig. Gen. Alan Palmer, chief of staff for the North Dakota Air National Guard, told the gathering that 25 million men and women have worn the uniform of the United States of America. He said 1.4 million Americans currently serving make up a new generation of veterans.

"They are truly our finest citizens," Palmer said. "They make this nation a safer and secure place to live. They've created a debt that we as Americans cannot fully repay."

Palmer said wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and smaller combat areas are far different than when he began serving in 1972.

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"They require great courage and demand great, great endurance," he said.

Palmer said the "wild enthusiasms" of flag-waving and yellow ribbons that followed the Sept. 11 attacks may be gone, but people should remember the disabled veterans at home "who set such a stern example."

"Take this moment to recommit yourself to doing those small things that make a difference in veterans' lives," Palmer said.

After a ceremonial salute by a combined veteran firing party from American Legion Post 6, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 2 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1874, "Taps" was played by Barb Schauer.

Barb Zavala, Grand Forks County Veterans Service Officer, concluded the ceremony.

"Veterans wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America in the amount of their lives," she said.

Some veterans said the recent attacks at Fort Hood added significance to the day. Bill Haug recalled his tour of duty with the army in Vietnam in 1970-71.

"There were attacks where G.I.s tried to kill their superiors," Haug said. "On military duty in the U.S., you think you're safe, but you never know when your days are numbered."

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Don Fischer also was in Vietnam in 1972-73, part of his four years of service.

"That event (Fort Hood) brought the war home," Fischer said. "My hope is that it makes Americans realize that veterans live their war everyday."

Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1262; (800) 477-6572, ext. 262; or send e-mail to jjohnson2@gfherald.com .

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