Knoxville — The Marion County Republicans held a Salute to Veterans at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum this morning.
The second floor was full of veterans, school children and others for the salute. Participants included Boy Scout Troop 377, Fun After 5 Folk Group led by Katie Davis and others.
"Today, we salute those who serve," Pella's Lt. Colonel Rob Bandstra, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, said in his opening remarks. He recalled the early days of the nation and how the lessons of those days of having a strong military is an essential base for the rest of the country. The same still applies today.
Sen. Ken Rozenboom reviewed America's wars since World War II. Rozenboom's father, father-in-law and uncle all served in the war.
His brother served in Vietnam. Rozenboom recalled the way those veterans, including his brother, were treated poorly when they came home.
"We left Vietnam as a bruised nation," Rozenboom said. He also reviewed the numbers of those who have served and become casualties of America's wars. Thus far in 2013, 116 Americans have died in Afghanistan.
Rep. Greg Heartsill also addressed the crowd. He admires veterans' devotion to their duty and for doing what is necessary to protect the country.
Prior to today's event, local school children were invited to participate in an art contest. The winners, selected by Central College art students, were recognized during the ceremony.
At the conclusion of the event, veterans in attendance were invited to receive honorary pins from local legislators. Refreshments were also served.
Angie Heartsill with the Marion County Republican Central Committee called the event, "fantastic." She was pleased with the support of the community and the sponsors who made the event happen.
Knoxville Mayor and longtime veterans' advocate Don Zoutte said he thought the event was great. He supports any effort intended to thank veterans for their service.