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West Valley City Journal

West Valley City honors those who fought for country

Dec 03, 2018 04:39PM ● By Justin Adams

West Valley City honored veterans on Nov. 12 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. (Sarah Payne/City Journals)

By Sarah Payne | [email protected]

Nov. 11, 1918. This was a day forever known in history as the day our weapons were lowered, our countrymen spared, and our future safeguarded as the first World War, which cost so many lives to fight, ended. Today, we remember this day worldwide. It goes by many names — Remembrance Day, Armistice Day to name a few — but its purpose is always the same. 

Veterans’ Day is for remembering those who bravely stood in arms throughout history and fought to be kept free from oppression.

On Nov. 12, 2018, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war, West Valley City residents and officials took part in a dinner and ceremony honoring those who stood selflessly in defense of our country. Veterans from conflicts such as the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and Desert Storm gathered in the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. It was the public’s chance to say thank you, show the respect and honor men and women for the sacrifices they have made. Mayor Ron Bigelow, who is a Vietnam veteran of the Air Force, as well as several city councilors were in attendance. 

Nancy Day is the Parks and Recreation Director for West Valley City. Instituted about five years ago, the program is a free event for veterans, their families, and any citizen who wish to participate. It includes a catered dinner for all attendees before the program begins. 

“It’s to acknowledge them,” Day explained. “It’s to thank them for their service, their sacrifice, and their families for their service and sacrifice as well, for supporting their spouses, children, siblings...That’s really what it is, is for us to give them a thank you.”

The program began with a Fallen Warrior Ceremony, read by Sgt. Robert Brinton, to commemorate all those who, for whatever reason, should be with us but are lost, including prisoners of war, missing in action, or killed in action. A table, sitting in front of the audience, was decorated in a specific way — an empty chair, a rose, a Bible, among others — all symbolizing some part of the sacrifice made by these brave soldiers. A moment of silence followed to remember those brothers and sisters no longer here. Veterans stood in solemn remembrance of their own comrades in arms. After a welcome by Bigelow and the flag ceremony and pledge of allegiance, a patriotic performance was given by the Salt Lake Men’s Choir. Amid songs such as “My Country” and “‘Tis of Thee,” a slideshow of the veterans present was shown, with each person’s picture, branch of service, and the conflict in which they served. 

Brigadier General Dallen S. Atack, who served in the US army for 32 years, was the keynote speaker. He spoke of the day we still remember. “It’s very fitting,” he said, “that this year we are recognizing the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I... It shook the nations of the world...It cost over 20 million lives, 

military and civilian — and then the Armistice, to end the war, was signed ending the hostilities on the 11th hour.”

He then spoke of why we celebrate Veteran’s Day. “It was originally a celebration for the silencing of the cannons of World War I,” Atack said. “Now it marks a day when nations around the globe pause in solemn remembrance and in silence to remember the heroism of those who have served, and those who have died as part of their country’s service. We do not mark this day as a celebration of any certain victory, but rather as a celebration for those who made it possible. We remember the brave men and women.” 

After he spoke, attending veterans were publicly acknowledged and given a gift. Bigelow spoke of plans to build an indoor memorial for these brave men and women, a $3 million project they’re working towards. 

“It’s important to honor our veterans because it reminds us why we’re a free nation,” he said. “America is the shining beacon of hope and freedom in the world.”