The flagpole outside Franklin Hall stood eerily barren at sunrise on Friday — a silent testament to all Americans who forfeited their lives to protect the nation.
At sunset the night before, the flag was still flying at half-mast, mourning the violence in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
A quiet crowd gathered at daybreak to watch the Color Guard raise the flag in honor of Veterans Day. Reserve Officer Training Corps members flanked the flagpole, standing at attention and waiting for the ceremony to begin to honor the ranks of the veterans so many of them will someday join.
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I, the Great War, ended.
Armistice Day was initially celebrated on Nov. 11 to honor this event — the end of a war that was meant to end all wars.
In 1954, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the act, renaming Armistice Day to Veterans Day and honor all veterans of all wars.
Colonel Kirk White, IU’s military liaison, shared remarks sent to him by some Indiana representatives for the occasion.
“Today, it’s our obligation to honor and thank those who selflessly answered out nation’s call without any expectations of fame or glory,” Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-9th District said in his correspondence to White.
White paraphrased remarks from Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, who served as a Marine Corps officer and sent his regrets that he wasn't able to attend the ceremony in person.
“We are forever indebted to the nearly 500,000 Hoosier vets who call Indiana home,” Sen. Joe Donnelly D-Indiana wrote.
This theme of indebtedness permeated the event, chiefly regarding what America owes its veterans as they return from combat.
“It’s especially significant how some of our veterans from earlier conflicts are now getting the recognition they did not receive when they came home 45 to 50 years ago,” retired Major General Sean Byrne said.
Byrne said it’s an interesting phenomenon how many obituaries include photos of the deceased as young men and women sporting military uniforms.
“I believe it’s because regardless of the circumstances, whether they served in war or peace, their days in the military are the ones that left the greatest mark on their life,” he said. “That uniform is a visual representation of that service and how they want to be remembered.”
Orders were given to raise the flag.
“Color Guard, post the colors,” White said.
As a trumpet swelled, “o’er the ramparts we watched,” members of the Army and Air Force Color Guard carefully unfurled Old Glory.
A gentle breeze aided them as they decorated the barren flag pole with the stars and stripes once more.
Byrne reminded the crowd that the Department of Defense’s stated mission is not to make war, but to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.
He urged them to remember not only America’s veterans, but also its active-duty soldiers.
“World War I may have been the war to end all wars, but it wasn’t,” he said, imploring the crowd not to forget the men and women currently on the battlefield for the United States.
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