Tyler police chaplain and army veteran Russ Jackson stood in the bright sunlight after Monday’s Veterans Day ceremony on the T. B. Butler Fountain Plaza and reflected on his service from 1983 to 1986.
He served in The Old Guard in Ft. Myer, Va., also known as the 3rd Infantry Regiment, which represents the Army in ceremonial and memorial events.
“I am humbled by it — the great sacrifice of all of those around me,” said Jackson, 50. He also expressed pride in his 22-year-old son, Adam Jackson, who is serving in the Army in Hawaii. “He has served for three years and just re-enlisted,” the senior Jackson said.
Under a brilliant blue sky, a band played 1940s tunes, and a community choir sang patriotic tunes as hundreds turned out to honor veterans from all branches of the armed services. The city of Tyler, the Mayor’s Veteran and Community Roundtable and the First Baptist Church of Tyler came together for the first time this year to organize the Monday event for veterans, Mayor Barbara Bass said.
“Veterans Day is a time to stop and reflect on the freedom we have — freedom is not free — many of our men and women have given of themselves we can be free,” Mayor Bass said. “We pause today and we thank God for our veterans each year and every day for those who have served.”
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Furlow, who sits on the Mayor’s Veteran and Community Roundtable, said more than 22 million U.S. veterans have served in wars over the years and that 1.4 million currently are serving.
“There are 18,000 vets in Smith County,” he said. Furlow then asked all veterans from the various wars, from World War II to date, to stand as those in the audience applauded.
The Rev. Ralph Caraway of the St. Louis Baptist Church in Tyler told the crowd he was thinking about his 90-year-old Navy veteran father on Veterans Day.
“He taught me about the love and admiration he had for his colleagues who served with him,” said Caraway, also a former city councilman.
“The freedom I have is at the expense of others . . . to all of those prisoners of war and missing in action — we haven’t forgotten about you,” Caraway said.
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” -- officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, according to the website. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first Armistice Day. A Congressional Act of 1938 made the day a national holiday. In 1954, the day became known as “Veterans Day” after soldiers from World War II and Korea were included, according to the website.
For more information about Veterans Day, go to www1.va.gov.