Joshua Dillen
The Baker City Herald

About 40 Veterans Day observers experienced temperatures in the 60s at Friday morning’s service to honor those who have served in the military.

Last year, in contrast, snow flakes were falling on them.

Chaplain Melinia Owens said the opening prayer at the service.

“Please bless these service members today, yesterday and tomorrow who served to make our nation great,” she said. “In the name of Almighty God, Amen.”

After the crowd participated in the Pledge of Allegiance, VFW Post 3048 Commander Robert Henshaw joked about the unseasonable weather.

“It’s a little better weather this year than it was last year. At this time last year, I had snowflakes falling on me,” he said as an audience member shouted “We’re still free!”

Henshaw thanked guests, retired Lt. Col. Rick Gloria, Keating Cub Scout Pack 342 and Mrs. Oregon Lori McNeil for attending.

“I really appreciate all of you coming out this morning for these services,” Henshaw said.

Retired 1st Sgt. Duncan Pierce who played the bugle call, escorted McNeil to the podium as Henshaw welcomed her to the ceremony.

McNeil told those present it was an honor to stand with them on Veterans Day at the Courthouse Veterans Memorial to celebrate and honor those who have served, and those families who serve along with them.

“There are people just like us all over the nation celebrating and honoring in various ways right now at this moment,” she said. “It is an honor to be here in Baker County celebrating and honoring our veterans who fight every day for our freedom.”

Henshaw took the podium again and said the day is a hard one for veterans — in a sense.

“We appreciate your thanks every day,” he said. “At the same time we have to teach ourselves to be humble and accept the thanks even though we feel we don’t deserve it sometimes. The fight that we all fought is never ending for us.”

With obvious emotion in his voice, Henshaw told the audience that fight is carried with them every single day — at work, at home when sleeping.

“But it’s a fight that we’re not going to stop fighting,” he said. “Because we know better. We have to keep fighting amongst ourselves. In our own minds. We will continue that fight every day.”

Henshaw mentioned the election that took place a few days before.

“Despite how you feel, what I want all of you to feel is we are American, we will stand together, we will continue to stand together and we will continue to be the greatest country in the world,” he said.

The comment drew loud cheers and applause from the audience. One voice could be heard saying “It takes us all to make America great.”

See more in the Nov. 14, 2016, issue of the Baker City Herald.