Cold weather and blowing snow didn’t deter veterans and families from attending the annual Veterans Day ceremonies hosted Monday at the Pettis County Courthouse to honor “true American heroes.”

Due to winter weather, the event was hosted inside the courthouse lobby instead of on the lawn as usual.

“It shows the true colors of the community,” said Pettis County Presiding Commissioner David Dick. “They support our veterans in any way, the same way that they have protected us. I think that’s a powerful statement about the community.”

Dick attended Smith-Cotton High School’s Veterans Day ceremonies earlier Monday morning and added he was amazed at how many students had family members who were veterans.

“It’s just two key pieces of what veterans mean to the community,” he noted. “And I hope what the community means in support of veterans.

“It always amazes me, I’ve never served,” he continued. “But, I had uncles and great-uncles that did. I was always grateful for those individuals … I had a great-uncle who was a World War I vet. Just the same, today’s kids, future veterans, are still mindful of what’s important. I’m glad we live in that kind of community.”

Pettis County Eastern Commissioner Israel Baeza said when he heard winter weather was predicted, he was worried about attendance for the event.

“But I spoke with all the veterans out there and they said, ‘no we won’t miss this,’” he noted. “They said ‘it’s a great ceremony.’ They’re here and that shows you that they don’t lose that resilience that they had back in the day. You have it and you continue to grow with it.”

Master of Ceremonies was Cliff McBride with Voiture 333, 40 & 8 veterans’ group. McBride introduced guest speaker state Rep. Brad Pollitt, R-Sedalia, who said veterans are “true American heroes.”

“It’s a day to honor those men, women, families who have served in wartime and peace …,” Pollitt said. “In wartime or peace, each individual in the military and their loved ones play a vital role in keeping our nation safe and in keeping this as the greatest country in the world.”

Pollitt cited the history of Veterans Day and added that there were Missouri veterans who had influenced him; men who represent the state of Missouri including state Rep. Mike Haffner, R-Pleasant Hill, and state Rep. Mike O’Donnell, R-St. Louis.

“And last, there are a handful of elected officials who have family members suffering from PTSD,” he noted. “And they continue to fight those wars even after they return home. All of them are true American heroes.

“All these men and women and others who put their lives in harm’s way to protect us are exceptionally ordinary men and women who were put to an extraordinary test,” he continued. “One of the greatest honors in my first term in legislature was to be chosen to pin our Vietnam veterans on National Vietnam Veterans Day at the Capital.”

Pollitt said a Sedalia veteran was unable to attend that day. So, while speaking Monday, Pollitt honored Vietnam War veteran Jim Gaertner, Central Missouri Veterans Association president, with a pin from Gov. Mike Parson.  

“In closing, only two defining forces have ever offered to die for each of us sitting here today,” Pollitt said. “One is our Lord and Savior Lord Jesus Christ and the other is the American soldier.

“One died for our eternal life,” he continued. “And the other was willing to die for not only our freedoms but for the cause of freedom … We should make sure that each and every day we thank those individuals.”

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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