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West Valley City Journal

Service and sacrifice honored on Veterans Day

Nov 19, 2019 02:24PM ● By Darrell Kirby

Veterans and other attendees look at displays at West Valley City's Veterans Day Program at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

Freedom is not free. 

That was the recurring theme of West Valley City's Veterans Day Program to honor the men and women who served and sacrificed as members of America's armed forces. 

The fifth annual event at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center on Nov. 11 recognized local residents who served active duty or as reserves in all branches of the military during peacetime and in conflicts from World War II up to Afghanistan starting in 2001. 

Some 280 servicemen and women, their families and guests, and city officials attended the dinner and program sponsored by West Valley City. 

In welcoming the gathering, Mayor Ron Bigelow, himself an Air Force veteran, said that whether military members were in combat or not, their roles were equally important in keeping the United States secure and free. “Even though many veterans who served in peacetime didn’t feel like they did very much, it was critical for their participation because deterrence is as important as the actual combat,” he said. 

That sentiment was echoed by keynote speaker, First Sergeant (Ret.) Jeff Malo of the Utah Army National Guard, who served in Afghanistan among other places. “Our service as a deterrent force is as critical if not more critical than our ability to serve in a combat environment.” 

Veterans were invited to come forward and introduce themselves, starting with those who served in World War II. The oldest to do so was Ronald Taylor, Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, who saw action in both World War II and the Korean War. “I’m grateful for my service and all my shipmates,” he said. 

To the applause of the audience, Bigelow said that veterans will be further honored in the future with the proposed Utah Veterans Memorial Hall to be built not far from the Cultural Celebration Center. Plans and fundraising for the project are still underway. The mayor said that the building will be not just a site for names and dates, but a place in which the stories and experiences of veterans are told.