Seeley Lake salutes its service members

Dozens of residents circled the Seeley Lake Veterans Memorial on Nov. 11 to honor and remember all who had served. Now 105 since the first celebration of Armistice Day, leaders from the veterans community reminded those that freedom is not free, even today.

"Many of (our veterans) didn't ask to leave their homes to fight on a distant battlefield. Many didn't even volunteer," Veterans and Families of Seeley Lake leader Barbara Knopp said. "They didn't go to war because they loved fighting, they were called to be a part of something bigger than themselves."

The Saturday morning ceremony coincided with the exact anniversary of the ending of World War I, which ceased at exactly 11 a.m. on Nov. 11. Jon Bergen, Reverend of Seeley Lake Baptist Church, said in Europe the country pauses for two minutes of silence to honor those who served.

Bergen lived in Scotland for about 20 years. He brought some of the European customs to Veterans Day. While wearing a traditional kilt, he recalled that he didn't pay much attention to Veterans Day until he watched a march of men in Brechin in 2005.

Men walked the streets, but many needed help, or rode in the back of cars. He saw another man crying and he asked what was wrong.

"These are the men that raised me, this will be the last time they can march," Bergen said. "It hit me, this is real, this is something that we who went to battle will never know."

Since then, John Bergen said he and his wife Ruth, who works at the Pathfinder, have always observed the day. The two took two minutes of silence every Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. They noticed after moving back to America that many take the day for granted, and do not reflect on history.

Jon Bergen then read a part of the famous poem "For the Fallen."

"They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow," he recited. "They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them."

Bergen noted that in England, the day is still called Armistice Day. In 1954, the U.S. changed the name to Veterans Day to acknowledge all veterans who had served the country.

Since Lexington and Concord, Knopp said Americans have always stepped up for their neighbors. She said from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam, Americans have always stepped up, no matter their background

"We're here today to honor our service members past and present, and to remember their sacrifices," Knopp said. "They have made the courage it takes to defend with honor and duty to this country."


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