Veterans, family and community members gathered on the lawn of the Denton County Courthouse on the Square on Monday to shine the spotlight on veterans for their service and sacrifice.
A number of speakers took to the lectern, talking about the importance of that sacrifice, the importance of helping returning veterans and how honoring veterans can help contribute to the ranks in the years to come.
“We are a nation, and a nation of people supports its people,” said Angela Shinn after the ceremony. Shinn is the women veterans coordinator for the Texas Veterans Commission and a 34-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. “Support our vets because they have supported you. Help them transition back into the community because they have left the community and now we need to receive them back in.”
Shinn said Veterans Day observances can go a long way toward getting more people to serve in the military.
“If they don’t see what people have done to sacrifice for them and what the benefits and fruits are of the sacrifice, they won’t want to [serve],” she said. “That’s what this nation was built on — principles and sacrifice.”
Shinn said children have to be taught to sacrifice and help their country, and through Veterans Day, they can see what it means.
“They get to see it, see the previous wars and see how the nation supports the people of the community that decide to defend her shores,” she said.
Joining in this year’s program, a joint effort between the University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University and Denton County, were the Sam Houston Singers, who performed the national anthem and military-themed songs, Ryan High School’s Junior ROTC members and the TWU Brass Ensemble.
In attendance were members of the Denton County Commissioners Court, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs and UNT President Lane Rawlins.
Retired Maj. Gen. Mary Saunders, executive director of the TWU Leadership Institute and last year’s keynote speaker, was on hand to give some remarks about some of the recent recognitions TWU has received. Those include a nearly $600,000 grant for the Women Airforce Service Pilots collection to digitize historical documents about the pilots, and a gift of material from the former Women’s Museum in Dallas.
After the service, many people from the community and families chatted and took photos with some of the veterans. Members of the Junior ROTC took time out to speak to Saunders as well. Among them was 16-year-old McKenzie Seals. She said Veterans Day was a time to recognize fallen troops and those who are serving today. People should also thank them for what they have done, she said.
Seals said that she does not see that appreciation as much as she would like among people her age.
“They need to step back and recognize more,” Seals said. “Most people these days don’t understand the reason for Veterans Day. They think, ‘oh that’s not me.’ But it’s all for us.”
When asked how to fix that, Seals thought for a moment.
“Teach more about Veterans Day,” she said. “Teach what they do for us.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .