SIKESTON -- Veterans Day is a time "to honor our soldiers, past and present," according to Iraq War veteran 1st Sgt. Dan Armour.
Armour offered his comments as keynote speaker for the annual Veterans Day Ceremony Friday at the Sikeston Senior High School Field House.
"We spend today remembering the men and women of our armed forces through the centuries who have come together to fight for a common cause," Armour said. "They've defended America when our borders, our people and our way of life have been threatened. When others turned away, it was our veterans who were willing to stand up, be counted, and put their boots on the ground.
"Our most powerful weapon in war, without a doubt, is the brave men and women in uniform," he continued, noting that "every morning we wake up on free land because of the men and women who have worn the uniform."
Armour said Veterans Day is a time to not only honor those in the service, but their families as well who also make sacrifices.
"They carry the weight of worry," he said. "They carry that burden until their loved ones return home."
And when do not come home safely, "it is their families who suffer most," Armour said.
Armour also spoke about the importance of community support by offering as a ready example how the local communities "wrapped their arms around" Charlie Company of the 1140th Engineer Battalion of the Missouri Army National Guard before, during and after their 15-month deployment in Iraq.
Describing Veterans Day as "a time to thank and honor those who have answered the call of duty," Armour recalled wars the armed forces of the United States have fought in from the world wars in Europe to the current war in Iraq.
"But that's not all our service members have done," he said, noting the armed forces' participation in "peacekeeping missions all over the world" building roads, bridges and schools as well has providing relief to the victims of hurricanes in recent years.
As Armour prepared to close his comments, he addressed the student body gathered for the ceremony.
"The young men and women serving today in the military, who are very close to your ages, are highly motivated and the very best America has to offer," he said, and "know the true meaning of courage."
The passing of the torch from veterans of the past to those who are serving today to those who will serve in the future is the light by which America will "continue to show the beacon of freedom to the oppressed of the world" and ensures that this country remains "the land of the free and the home of the brave," he said.
The ceremony opened with the presentation and posting of the colors by the Sikeston National Guard unit followed by the national anthem by the Sikeston High School band, choir and orchestra.
Larry Floyd, commander of the Sikeston American Legion Post 114, led the Pledge of Allegiance and the prayer of remembrance was offered by the Rev. Mike Brewer, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Charleston.
Blair Moran, chaplain of the Sikeston American Legion Post 114, offered welcoming remarks and noted the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Steve Taylor, chairman of the Sikeston Veterans Park Committee, described the park as "a highlight of our community," noting that "we continue to expand our park in honor of our veterans."
Taylor said preparations are in progress to add a battleship anchor to the park's displays to honor those who served in the U.S. Navy.