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Published November 11 2012

‘Remember this is still Veterans Day’

FARGO – Even as he thanked veterans for all they’ve done for their country, Dennis Walaker reminded the rest of us that the gratitude should extend beyond the bounds of a single day.

“When you wake up on Nov. 12, remember this is still veterans day for our veterans,” the Fargo mayor said. “It always will be.”

Walaker’s remarks came at a Veterans Day program at the Fargo Civic Center in which local military and civilian leaders praised military personnel for their service and sacrifice.

“Sacrifices in the name of peace and freedom have made this nation what it is today,” he said.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of not taking for granted the rights and liberties veterans safeguard.

“It doesn’t just happen. It didn’t just happen. It won’t just happen,” he said. “We will not be free without these great men and women.”

Dilworth Mayor Chad Olson told the story of his great-grandfather, an Italian immigrant who enlisted immediately to fight in World War I and gain citizenship.

“I stand here as evidence of the efforts of a veteran,” he said.

Olson said the best way to honor veterans is by good stewardship of the country.

“There is no better way to say thank you than to do our part to ensure enduring peace and enduring prosperity,” he said.

Dave Rice, department commander of the North Dakota American Legion, gave the keynote address. He advocated for progress on veterans issues ranging from high rates of homelessness to proper accommodation of female soldiers.

He asked the crowd of about 200 to support veterans in their lives who are struggling with mental health issues, a widespread problem among today’s forces.

“If you know of a service member or veteran who needs help, please steer them in the right direction,” he said.

The event, emceed by American Legion Chaplain Wayne Wermager, also featured music from the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band. It was one of a handful of Veterans Day observances in the metro area.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502