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Importance of remembering cited at Colorado Springs Veterans Day events

November 11, 2013 Updated: November 11, 2013 at 11:34 pm
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photo - Sgt. 1st Class Michael Smith hugs his daughter, Lexie Smith, Monday, November 11, 2013, during a Veterans Day assembly at Stetson Elementary School. Smith was one of about 35 veterans who were honored at the assembly. Smith will retire this summer after serving in the US Army for 22 years. Lexie is a fourth grader at Stetson Elementary. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Smith hugs his daughter, Lexie Smith, Monday, November 11, 2013, during a Veterans Day assembly at Stetson Elementary School. Smith was one of about 35 veterans who were honored at the assembly. Smith will retire this summer after serving in the US Army for 22 years. Lexie is a fourth grader at Stetson Elementary. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

Ninety five years after the guns went silent in France, veterans gathered in Colorado Springs to talk about the importance of remembering those who have gone to battle.

With America winding down its role in Afghanistan, war is falling out of the headlines and some worry that people will forget the sacrifices made.

"It's important to keep it in the minds of our citizens, so in the future we can prevent wars," said retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Homer Galloway during a morning wreath-laying ceremony in Memorial Park.

Galloway wore a picture of Staff Sgt. David Staats on his jacket, his son-in-law who died in 2006 at Taji, Iraq

"He was like a son to me," Galloway said, wiping a tear from his eye.

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I. It was later changed into a day to honor the nation's growing roll of veterans over a century of frequent warfare.

But getting the nation's youngest veterans to join in groups and ceremonies to honor their comrades is a tough sell, said 29-year-old Gene Bachman, a wounded Iraq veteran and member of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

He's hoping those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq can take up the torch of their older brethren from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

"We've got to keep it going," he said. "We've got to continue it."

Honoring veterans is important for more than just Americans. Canadians from the North American Aerospace Defense Command gathered alongside their allies for a Monday ceremony at The Retired Enlisted Association on Emory Circle.

For Canadians, Nov. 11 is Remembrance Day, a holiday also dating to World War I to honor the military.

"It is important to remember all the sacrifice our predecessors endured," said NORAD's Canadian Forces Maj. Gen. Andre Viens. "Freedom has come at a great cost."

American leaders agree.

"It is very important for those who have sacrificed so much they are not forgotten," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, the Air Force Academy's commandant of cadets.

The speaker at the Veterans Day rites at The Enlisted Association, retired Canadian Forces Master Warrant Officer Darrell Levitt suggested one way to keep faith with veterans.

"Teach your children the history of our freedom," he said.

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