BELLEVILLE, IL -- Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, commanding general, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, was the keynote speaker at Belleville's 20th-annual Veterans Day ceremony on Sunday at City Hall. The annual ceremony served to recognize veterans and educate youth about the significant sacrifices veterans made and continue to make for our freedom. At the start of the ceremony, the Bells of Peace rang 11 times, commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I."On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the battlefields of Europe fell silent after more than four years of fierce and intense fighting," said Farmen during the ceremony.Mayor Mark Eckert, City of Belleville mayor, declared Nov. 11, 2018 as World War I Armistice Remembrance Day in Belleville."We call upon all our citizens to honor and remember all Americans who served and sacrificed for our community, for our country and for the future of our nation," said Eckert.During the ceremony, local school children were recognized for their Veterans Day-themed posters and essays. Farmen presented certificates to each of the first and second place winners. Honor, respect and remembrance for veterans was Farmen's theme."Our service members represent the best our nation has to offer. They are the heart, the soul and the spirit of the greatest nation on the planet," he said.All military services were recognized with the playing of each service song. Veterans of each service were encouraged to stand while their respective songs were played.Farmen closed by saying, "when you think of America and the DNA that runs deep, think of -- and always remember - our Veterans."