Mineral Wells Index
By CHRIS AGEE
Mineral Wells honored its many local veterans Monday morning at Ram Stadium.
Veterans, residents and students from across the county filled the stands for the 30th annual Veterans Day Remembrance Program.
For many of the honored guests, the most meaningful aspect of the event is its inclusion of the next generation.
“It means a lot,” said Lewis Logan, who served with the Navy Seabees. “I’m glad they’re doing this; maybe the kids are learning what we went through.”
Marine Corps veteran Michael Crites said the program has a “bittersweet taste,” explaining the show of gratitude from the community “helps heal some of the wounds.”
He said he is optimistic about the youth’s involvement in the event.
“I’m glad young kids are beginning to learn what servicemen and women went through so they can have their freedom,” he said.
“This event thrills me,” said Navy veteran Ray Frakes. “I come every year.”
In addition to the opportunity to “see some old shipmates,” Frakes said seeing local students interested in the armed services is what he enjoys most about the program.
“You’d be surprised by the kids that come by and say, ‘Thank you,’” he said.
The event’s master of ceremonies, retired Army Lt. Col. Robert C. Evans, began with a brief history of Veterans Day before sharing why American soldiers are unique.
“For the most part, they’ve all been citizen soldiers,” he said. “Whether by choice or draft, they ended up in the military.”
He said one common trait made the veterans of American wars special.
“They knew the difference between right and wrong,” he said, noting they risked their lives to protect liberty at home and abroad.
He applauded Monday’s program for bringing veterans and area youth together, explaining he first attended the remembrance program as a student and has returned as often as possible since.
Following entertainment presentations by students from local schools, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard E. “Tex” Brown III addressed the crowd.
The guest speaker, a longtime Mineral Wells resident, said Mineral Wells “has always been one of the most patriotic cities in America,” a distinction for which he credits the Fort Wolters military training base.
Brown built on Evan’s comments, sharing the origin of Veterans Day.
Originally called Armistice Day, he said, the designation commemorated the end of World War I with a treaty signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
The war was then believed to be “the war to end all wars,” Brown said, “but we know that’s not the way it turned out.”
He then led the crowd through subsequent wars, beginning by honoring the World War II veterans in attendance, calling them “part of the greatest generation of Americans.”
Continuing through the Korean War and his generation’s war, Vietnam, Brown explained the significance of certain other dates in American history.
Nov. 22, 1963, was “the day our president was shot and killed maybe 100 miles from where we are now,” he said. Almost 16 years later, he said another date proved the resolve of American forces.
On the day the Berlin Wall fell, Nov. 9, 1989, Brown said he was stationed in Europe.
“At that moment, everything stood still,” he said, as individuals across Europe realized “that was the end of the Cold War.”
The nation would soon enter a long war in the Middle East, he said, which American troops are still fighting today.
Terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, brought that war to our shores, he said.
Brown ended with a quote from English economist and philosopher John Stuart Mill: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which things that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
American veterans, he said, prove they have a cause for which they will fight.
“We have a reason to fight,” he said. “We fight for freedom.”