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Members of High Valley VFW Post 4060 participate in a flag raising ceremony during a Veterans Day program at Eastern Oregon University. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
The message — never forget — was both simple and profound and was shared at a ceremony Monday at Eastern Oregon University commemorating Veterans Day.
“We must not forget our veterans, even if they were not our own, we must hold the memory of them and the ultimate sacrifice they made close to our hearts,” said Sgt. Jordan Waller of Elgin, a member of the Oregon National Guard, during his address.
He said that veterans who have given their lives for their nation will forever occupy a higher echelon.
“For eternity they will always be what we can only aspire to be: giving, unselfish, the epitome of human love — to lay down one’s life so that others might live,” said Waller, a member of the National Guard’s La Grande-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry.
The ceremony, which Lt. Col. Richard McKim of Baker City and the Oregon National Guard served as master of ceremonies of, began with the singing of the National Anthem by Jae Wood and an invocation by Jim Lundy of Cove.
EOU President Bob Davies also spoke at the ceremony. Davies requested that the color guard present lower the flag to half mast in honor of those who have given their lives for their nation.
Community members lined Adams Avenue late Monday morning to watch La Grande’s annual Veterans Day parade. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
“This is truly a solemn day,” Davies said.
Davies then praised the courage and sacrifices made by the 132 students at Eastern who are veterans, the 34 students who are on active duty in the military and 13 faculty and staff who are veterans. He also saluted the students who are members of Eastern’s ROTC program.
Davies concluded his remarks by recalling what President Woodrow Wilson said when establishing Armistice Day in 1919, which honored the efforts of soldiers who helped the United States win World War I.
Wilson said in 1919 that those reflecting on Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day, would be filled with pride in the heroism of veterans who died for their country and gratitude for victory. They had given America the opportunity to, “Show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations,” Davies quoted Wilson as saying.