Program honors sacrifices of military veterans
Dec 08, 2016 03:24PM
● By Travis Barton
Mayor Ron Bigelow welcomes those in attendance to the city’s Veterans Day Program on Nov. 11 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
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By Travis Barton | [email protected]
The Utah Cultural Celebration Center played host to West Valley City’s third annual Veterans Day Program on Nov. 11. Beginning with the Fallen Comrade Ceremony and ending with remarks from Mayor Ron Bigelow, the night commemorated those who have served in the military from the Revolutionary War to today.
“It’s been great, the veterans in our community really appreciate that we do something like this…and it’s fun,” said Nancy Day, Family Fitness Center director. Both Day’s husband and son have served in the military.
“We just want to make sure people recognize and appreciate them,” Bigelow said, having served three years in the military from 1971 to 1973.
The evening included a flag ceremony from the United States Naval Sea Cadets and a veterans tribute by the One Voice Children’s Choir. The keynote speaker was Nephi, Utah native Lieutenant Colonel Gregg G. Lofgran of the US Army.
Lofgran has served in various capacities during his military tenure including as a team chief at the Pentagon and deputy director of intelligence at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. After more than 30 years serving in military, Lofgran said it’s not one, but four things that have sustained him through the decades.
“Well it’s four words: sing, shout, laugh and love…those are complex emotions,” Lofgran said. He added that anger and fear are basic instincts and it’s important to “rise above” those instincts.
While there are lots of events around the valley to celebrate Veterans Day, Bigelow said they wanted to specially honor veterans in West Valley City and three years ago started the Veterans Day Program.
While the wars for which these veterans are remembered have long passed, it is important to remember these events, Bigelow said.
“We want to make sure that we still teach the principles of why we do that and honoring veterans is a way to do that,” Bigelow said.
The day also serves as an honor to family members of those veterans, Bigelow said.
“People sacrificed to serve their country and it wasn’t just the veteran, a veteran typically left a family at home—sometimes children—and impact was huge,” Bigelow said.
One of those family members was Day.
“Veterans Day for me personally is a special day so when we were able to get the support from the mayor and do [the program] for our city, it’s a project I’ve been very excited to be involved with,” Day said.
With the city still recovering from the sudden death of beloved police officer Cody Brotherson, Day said Nov. 11 is a special time to focus on those who have sacrificed.
“Any time we can focus some attention and appreciation for our veterans in military or other public servants, it’s special to us and this helps tie all that in,” Day said.
A way to continue honoring Veterans year-round, Bigelow hopes, will be the intended construction of a veterans memorial hall. Still in the early stages, Bigelow, who is spearheading the planned memorial, said fundraising has reached around $125,000 with ground breaking not expected for another 18 months.
The location for the new center has been narrowed to Kearns, Taylorsville and West Valley City.
Bigelow referenced an analysis done by Col. Gary Harter of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs to note the close relationship people have with veterans.
“[Harter] figured that based up on our population, that one in six Utahns had a direct connection to a veteran, which is pretty significant,” Bigelow said.
Day said that regardless of what goes on the world, Veterans Day is a day to forget about what may divide the country and focus on those who helped keep it together.
“We owe our veterans a great deal for all the sacrifices they’ve made and their families have made over the years so I think it’s important to carry on traditions like this,” Day said.