By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)November 15, 2010
WIESBADEN, Germany - On Veterans Day we pause to remember those who have gone before us and those still serving in harm's way.
This year members of the Wiesbaden military community joined together at the Wiesbaden Library to hear reflections on heroic figures in individuals' lives before marching to Veterans Park for a traditional ceremony Nov. 10. Speakers described their heroes - ranging from parents to a spouse to Medal of Honor recipients.
For Dr. Robert Schloesser, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation director, General George S. Patton was an early hero.
"I was a kid during World War II. He was one kind of a hero. ... He stood up for what he thought was right and accomplished things that many people thought were impossible," said Schloesser, adding, "We military folks are around heroes all the time."
Among those heroes are service members who put their lives at risk, going above the call of duty, to help save their comrades on the battlefield - Medal of Honor recipients, he said, mentioning Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta of the 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team - the first living recipient since the Vietnam War. The Vicenza, Italy-based Soldier was recognized this year for his actions in Afghanistan in 2007.
But there are all kinds of heroes, he added, including those who can "influence a change that is good for the Army or families.
"What you do everyday is out of the mindset of most Americans," Schloesser told the gathered Soldiers at the Wiesbaden Library. My admonishment to you is to just do the best you can all the time and then you'll be a hero."
Other speakers, including garrison commander Col. Jeffrey Dill, Christine Jones of the Army Substance Abuse Program and Wiesbaden librarian Dr. Arlene Luster described how their parents, uncle, or in the case of Luster, spouse, influenced them.
"We all have heroes," said Dill, citing his father, a longtime veteran, and mother as among those who will always stand high in his regard.
"The military has meant so much to me," said Jones, a retired veteran who said as members of the Army Family, individuals are "all part of something bigger" than themselves. She also talked about her heroes - her uncle, who served during World War II, and her father who "hauled steel" in the war effort as a civilian because he was unable to serve in the military for health reasons and dropped out of school to support his family.
After marching from the library to Veterans Park on Wiesbaden Army Airfield, community members listened to music performed by the Wiesbaden High School Band and words from several guest speakers.
"The list of gratitude owed to our veterans is immeasurably long, and the width and depth of their record of service, and their contributions to America, is incalculable at best," said Timothy Penzien, speaking of behalf of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 27.
"A free republic is a monument to the contributions of, and is owed directly to, the generations of veterans and to the thousands of dedicated men and women who are now serving around the world," Penzien said. "It is imperative that we as a nation, and as individuals, remember the heroes of the past and support those who serve today."
Describing the "longest sustained wartime mobilization" in the nation's history, Penzien said it is crucial that Americans ensure veterans receive the "care and respect they so richly deserve."
The Veterans Day observance concluded with moments of silence, led by the garrison's commander, and a wreath-laying ceremony.
"We don't mark this day each year as a celebration of victory, as proud of that victory as we are," said Dill. "We mark this day as a celebration of those who made victory possible. It's a day we keep in our minds the brave men and women of this young nation - generations of them - who above all else believed in and fought for a set of ideals. ... To you, veterans, we say 'thank you.'"