FORT SILL, Okla. -- Fort Sill celebrated the sacrifices of veterans past and present during its Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 12 outside McNair Hall. Hundreds of service members, veterans, civilians and family members, endured freezing temperatures at 9 a.m. to thank the men and women who answered the call to arms and their families.

In his invocation, Lt. Col. Steven Maglio, installation deputy chaplain, said, "We remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, freedom, faith and families. May we never forget all those who have, and will continue to serve in the greatest country in the world."

The guest speakers were retired Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Fenter, Lawton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5263 commander; Capt. Blair Tighe Jr., Air Defense Artillery Captain's Career Course student; and Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general.

McDonald said more than 130,000 service members will leave the military this year.

"I think the strength of our community is our veterans because they bring so much to the table: talent, experience, a 'can-do' attitude," the general said. "So together we're all pulling on the rope to take care of them, to help them transition."

The families of veterans are absolutely worth honoring, too, McDonald said.

They endure many periods of separation often with their spouse, father or mother downrange in harm's way, he said. They endure and they get stronger and they truly are the strength of the Soldiers.

"We could not honor our veterans properly unless we honored those who support them so well their families," he said.

Fenter, a two-tour Vietnam War veteran, said as the nation honors veterans it should also reflect on the many costs attached to the victories over tyranny, such as wounded warriors.

"Any simple words or ceremonies we offer to our veterans will ring hollow if collectively we're not willing to do anything less for the men and women who have done so much," said Fenter, who served 26 years of active duty. "You and [I] must commit to ensuring that they (veterans) are able to obtain timely and adequate health care."

Tighe, a student in Class No. 04-12, said it was veterans who endured a life of hardships so that others could live free, and that their contributions helped build the foundation for today's Army.

"Following the brave examples who came before us, Soldiers continue to embrace the values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage," Tighe said.

During the pageantry, program narrator John Starling, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, gave a brief history of the five armed services as their respective flags were presented by the Fort Sill Color Guard.

Numerous families attended the ceremony including German army Sgt. Maj. Michael Clobes, his wife, Nicole, and their three children. Nicole said she enjoyed the ceremony

"It's the tiniest thing that you can do to honor these guys, but it let's them know we are thinking about them," she said.

Afterward, Command Sgt. Maj. Dwight Morrisey, FCoE and Fort Sill CSM, said he appreciated the support Fort Sill service members and veterans receive from the Lawton-Fort Sill community.

"There's only a hyphen between Fort Sill and Lawton," said the command sergeant major, who is approaching 33 years of active duty.