Veterans honored in Park City ceremony
There were soldiers from the Vietnam War, the Cold War era, the Gulf War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq gathered at the National Ability Center on Sunday.
It was Veterans Day, and a group of invited guests took time that afternoon to honor people who served in the American military. There was not politicking even though there was a roster of local politicians in attendance. The veterans appeared to take time to trade stories of their years in the military.
Kristian Smith, the commander of the American Legion post in Park City, said in an interview said the event, which drew approximately 60 people, was one of the largest organized by the local post.
The flags were posted at the beginning of the ceremony. The Park City Singers performed ‘You’re a Grand Old Flag’ and a medley of the songs of the military branches.
The veterans stood at attention when the song of their branch started. The ceremony honored the late Jim Santy, a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Korean War and later became a beloved Park City educator.
"It’s important they realize there is value in the veteran community here locally," Smith said in an interview afterward. "They do know that. They understand there’s value."
Smith, who lives in Timberline, served in the Army from 1981 until 2003.
"It’s a community sentiment that exists . . . The community’s always very supportive of veterans," he said.
The Park City Police Department was represented in the audience. Mayor Dana Williams and four members of the Park City Council were in attendance. At least three Summit County Councilors were there as well.
Park City often marks Memorial Day, which honors the nation’s war dead, but it is uncommon for Veterans Day to be commemorated with a ceremony like the one on Sunday.
Williams delivered remarks to the crowd, acknowledging that he aligned himself with the anti-war movement while he was growing up in the 1960s. He recalled being a youngster in Southern California riding bicycles through a military cemetery and seeing the funerals of soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. The mayor said the treatment of soldiers darkened the era.
Williams recounted the discussions in Park City as the United States prepared for the Iraqi war, saying that he refused to endorse a resolution against the war. He said he did not want to use the mayor’s office as a pulpit but that it was difficult, "absolutely devastating," to watch as soldiers from Park City were deployed to the war zones.
Smith, in the interview, said he has noticed Americans have treated veterans with more respect in the decades since the Vietnam War, saying "the tide has changed over time." He said they realize that the soldiers are not the ones making decisions about war.
"Our service members are a tool of our democracy," Smith said.
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