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Pensacola Honors America's Veterans

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Men and women who have worn, and are now wearing, the uniform of the United States are being honored on this Veterans Day, 2016. One observance was held at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Pensacola.

At 11 o’clock the bell at the park chimed 11 times to mark the 98th anniversary of the end of World War I.

What started out as Armistice Day on the winning side is still called that in Great Britain and Canada. In the United States, the name was changed by Congress to Veterans Day in 1954.

“Today we celebrate all that have served their country, and remembering that our forces remain engaged in many places in an uncertain world on this Veterans Day,” said retired Navy Capt. Butch Hansen, the president of the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation.

He read to the gathering the quote that was on the back page of the event program.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him; but because he loves what is behind him.”

After the medley by members of the Pensacola Opera, the guest speaker for this year’s event was retired Marine Corps Colonel Clay Stackhouse – aviator call sign “Thumper.” 

“The American serviceman – and woman – has freed us from colonialism; preserved the Union, ended slavery, stopped the Nazis and the fascists, contained communism, [and] kept us safe against Islamic terrorists,” said Stackhouse.

He added that, along with being warriors, American troops are also humanitarians.

“Brought aid to areas of the world in strife; rescued people from war-ravaged countries, and brought hope to people all over the world who had none,” said Stackhouse. “That’s quite a legacy.”

Afterward, awards were handed out to local students, K-to-12, on essays they wrote on the military oath. And a wreath was laid by the Daughters of the American Revolution at the Wall South – which served as a backdrop for the event.

The ceremony at Veterans Park followed the annual Veterans Day parade through downtown Pensacola. Other Veterans Day observances were held in Milton and Fort Walton Beach.