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Community comes together to honor and give thanks to area vets

Approximately 550 people attended Johnson County’s 29th annual Veterans Day observance event on Wednesday, where area veterans were honored for their service to our country. Veterans and their families filled the National Guard Armory in Lenexa. They listened to patriotic music played by local students, and messages of thanks delivered by military leaders and elected officials.

“Time allows us to understand how grateful we are as a nation for those who fought for our freedom,” said Brigadier General Victor Braden, deputy commanding general, Army National Guard.

This was a year to commemorate significant milestones — 2015 marks 70 years since the end of World War II, and 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War. Special guests read off 92 names of Johnson Countians who fought in those wars as the men stood in recognition.

“Our service men and women have answered the call of duty and stepped forward to defend the freedoms that we hold dear. And Kansas has a very proud history of honoring these heroes. It was through the legislative efforts of Emporia native Alvin J. King and Congressman Ed Rees and somebody by the name of Dwight David Eisenhower that Veterans Day became a national holiday,” U.S. Senator Pat Roberts said.

The day was also a time for area veterans to interact, discuss shared experiences and remember those who were lost defending our country by participating in a wreath-laying ceremony.

“There were some 36 Vietnam-era veterans who got medals and a certificate — it was nice to be with 36 men that I can call brothers. We all went through the same basic training and life experiences,” said Frank Rhoback, one of Johnson County’s Vietnam War vets.

We sincerely appreciate all organizations and individuals who participated in this year's observance. A video and photo album of yesterday’s event can be viewed online.