Last updated: August 28. 2013 4:44AM - 85 Views

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Communities, schools and other organizations across the area paused to pay tribute to the service and sacrifices of those who have served in the military during a series of local Veterans Day events.

Scores of veterans, local officials and residents marked Veterans Day in Sedalia at the annual ceremony at the Pettis County Courthouse. The American Legion Post 642 led the event, which featured a keynote address from Missouri Veterans Commission Executive Director Larry Kay.

Kay, who retired from the Missouri National Guard in 2010 at the rank of Brigadier General, recounted stories about the commitment and sacrifices of those who serve and described how he had become intrigued about the reason people join the military, despite what they have to leave behind in order to serve the country.

“They leave their families, they leave everything they care about and they go to a strange place on a mission and do what they do,” he said. “So I ask soldiers and airmen why they do that, and most of them can’t tell me.”

“It’s something deep inside them, and it’s something that we as Americans have, that in the very worst of times, these wonderful people show up and protect us.”

Kay called on those attending to recognize the heroes around them on Veterans Day and throughout the year.

“They are I think this nation’s most precious commodity, and it’s an honor and a privilege just to be with them,” Kay said.

After the address, veterans, military members and their families laid wreaths at memorials across the courthouse lawn in remembrance of those who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other conflicts.

As the flag at the center of the ceremony was lowered to half-staff, a salute from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2591 firing squad rang out, followed by the blare of taps as played by Smith-Cotton JROTC cadets.

“Today means taking a second to take my hat off and say thank you to those who came before me,” said Airman 1st Class Kevin Doyal, who, with his mother, Cindi, laid a wreath in honor of veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was home in Sedalia on leave before returning to basic training and tech school Saturday. “I’m just carrying on a tradition they helped carry on since it started.”

The courthouse ceremony was followed by a free lunch at the post, as well as an afternoon Veterans Day parade along South Ohio Avenue.

The University of Central Missouri also hosted a pair of events in honor of Veterans Day, including a tribute that focused on Vietnam era veterans and another ceremony celebrating the opening of the Military and Veterans Success Center, a new facility on campus dedicated to assisting current military and veteran students with their education.

A standing-room-only crowd that included representatives from the university, Whiteman Air Force Base personnel, elected officials, veterans and other supporters filled into the new center in Elliott Union for the dedication ceremony.

The Military and Veterans Success Center will provide individual and group study areas, computer work stations and dedicated staff and house the office of the Missouri Career Center’s local veterans representative.

“Once these doors open this afternoon and service members and veterans bring in their things ... we hope that this is more than a front door, but a living room and a place for you to call home on campus,” said University President Charles Ambrose.

Brig. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman, called the new facility “a huge encouragement” that will help promote a lifelong pursuit of learning among members of the military.

“You all are going to witness, I think, a new generation of young people growing up and getting an education differently than the past generation,” Vander Hamm said.

The center is among other recent university initiatives aimed at better serving current military personnel, their families and veterans.

Delilah Nichols, coordinator of Military and Veteran Services at UCM, said those efforts have included the establishment of the Office of Military and Veteran Services and a new Military Tuition Package, which offers students utilizing military tuition assistance or VA educational benefits exemptions for some fees.

“This whole Military and Veteran Services initiative is UCM’s way of saying thank you for the service and for the sacrifices they made for our freedom,” Nichols said.

  1. Area events pay tribute to veterans

  2. Area events pay tribute to veterans

  3. Area events pay tribute to veterans

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