BARSTOW, Calif.- As Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez opened the Veterans Day ceremonies at the Mountain View Memorial Park in Barstow, Calif. on Thursday, he asked aloud why he didn't serve in the Armed Forces.

"I often wonder why I didn't make the choice to serve my country," Mayor Gomez said. "I think I would've been good a Soldier."

Because he didn't make that choice, Mayor Gomez said he'll never know what it's like to be away from his family for years, lose a friend in combat or have war stories to tell his children and grandchildren.

"God has a plan for all of us. He placed special people like you veterans to serve our country, so people like me could run for office, have the freedom to vote and express our opinions," he said.

Veterans Day is becoming something more as it's a time to serve again, as many veterans are actively involved in the Barstow community, he said.

"You are my heroes. You made the sacrifices, and today we honor you," Mayor Gomez concluded.

As Fort Irwin/National Training Center Commanding General Brig. Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams took the podium he noted that he had several Veterans Day ceremonies to choose from, but he elected to return to Barstow.

"We've got 6,200 Soldiers and Marines up at the National Training Center training today and I said, 'Nope, I'm going to break away from what we're doing up there and come down here and spend Veterans Day with the city of Barstow and the veterans of Barstow'," Brig. Gen. Abrams said. "I wouldn't be anywhere else."

Veterans Day is celebrated around the world with different names such as Armstice Day and Remembrance Day, and its meaning has changed from celebrating victory to celebrating those who made victory possible, he said.

"In this time of persistent conflict for better than a decade Servicemen and women have endured tour after tour in distant and difficult places; they have protected us from danger and they continue to do so," he said.

To pay tribute to all those who have served, are serving and have given their lives, Brig. Gen. Abrams suggested a moment of silence.

"Silence does not come naturally to our country. We are a loud and busy people. That's just how we are," he said.

It is not in the American culture to be silent and the world isn't silent, either, he said.

"Our Service members like those training today, they heeded the call," he said. "They did not sit back in silence, but are taking an active stand to bring peace to the world."

Many in the gathered at the ceremony know that a life of service is anything but peaceful, Brig. Gen. Abrams said.

"From the sound of Reveille to the sound of Taps the lives of Servicemen and women are in constant motion, and it's anything but silent," he said. "A life of service is anything but a silent one."

However, no one knows the sound of silence like a military family, he said.

"Like the sound of silence when a son or daughter goes off to boot camp or the lingering silence when a father or mother deploys or the deafening silence when the flag is handed to a grieving loved one," he said. "Silence is profound and is a living testament of their service to their loved ones."

Veterans Day is a time for everyone to silence their own personal cannons to give those who have served and are serving the full measure of respect, he said.

"While it's important and proper we mark with this day with a humble silence, it's far more important we spend our days rejoicing in these veterans' service and reminding ourselves that because of our veterans, veterans standing here today, our country still stands," Brig. Gen. Abrams said. "Thank you, thank you for your service to our country."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16