Rites honor veterans as leaders

Photos by Gretel Daugherty/The Daily Sentinel—Hudson Himes, 6, and Dick Gigliotti, the master of ceremonies, lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance during an annual Veterans Day observance in Fruita. BELOW: Mathias Mulumba, of Grand Junction, sings the national anthem.

At Rim Rock Elementary School on Veterans Day, Katee McCall, above, and classmates wrote letters to soldiers. Students at the school donated 126 pounds of Halloween candy to troops.

American veterans are well prepared to take on leadership in business, school and government, Mesa County’s top administrator said.

“I want to challenge my generation of veterans to take up the challenge of leadership and build a better tomorrow for our country, our citizens and our world,” said Tom Fisher, who also is a colonel and brigade commander in the Utah Army National Guard.

Fisher spoke to more than 300 people at the 10th annual Veterans Day observance at the Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial Park in Fruita.

There is little about war that is great, Fisher said, but after 23 years in the Army, including service in Iraq, “I have determined that there is something great that is a byproduct of war.

“What is great is that these wars have produced veterans.”

Veterans today are better trained and more technologically adept than their predecessors, and more of them are women, Fisher said.

Those veterans are prepared to take their place in the ranks of leadership in civilian life, Fisher said.

The nation has 22 million veterans, including 2.3 million who served in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans are encouraged to apply for work at the Mesa County Workforce Center, he noted, but participation by vets has remained relatively flat, Fisher said afterwards.

“I would love to see that tick up,” he said.

The Sons of the American Revolution took note of the contributions of Jim Doody, who founded the memorial in honor of his brother, Tom, who died in the Vietnam conflict. Garry Brewer of the Colorado Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution presented Doody with the Silver Good Citizenship Medal.

The award recognizes “outstanding and unusual patriotic achievement and service.”

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of World War I, on Nov. 11, 1918. It was changed in 1954 to Veterans Day to commemorate those who served in the armed forces.


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