GRANDVILLE, Mich. — Gathered around a podium at American Legion Post 179 are a number of Veterans, their family members, and other community members in attendance to recognize the importance of the day.
Nov. 11 has long been Veterans day, but even before that, it was Armistice day, dating all the way back to 1919.
As the clock struck 11 a.m., a bell was rung 21 times.
The tradition goes back to the beginning of the holiday more than a century ago.
For Legion Post 179 commander Patrick Burns, each ring of the bell fills him with pride.
"The biggest feeling I have is gratefulness," Burns said. "For the men and women who sacrificed so much so that we can be standing here today."
A few young kids were in the crowd during the ceremony. Burns was touched by their attendance and says bringing kids to events like this helps to build admiration and respect for veterans at a young age.
"It makes me feel great that their parents are wanting them to learn about this and what it is to serve your country," Said Candie Chase, whose husband served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam war.
Chase says this day doesn't feel different compared to other Veterans Days in the past, even though it's the first in over 20 years to fall during a time of peace rather than war.
"Whether we have them and they are active and they’re serving and they’re fighting and they’re overseas, or if they’re out and they’re back home," She said. "We always need to look at them and the importance that they’ve served for our country."
Commander Burns mirrored that sentiment, saying more needs to be done to support veterans back home.
He told a story of a young man returning from service and coming to the Legion to have a drink. He had fallen on hard times in his family and personal life, and felt he had nowhere else to go. After meeting another veteran and chatting for four hours, the young vet approached Burns.
"After talking to that veteran for 4 hours, he told me he was going to go home, find his wife, patch things up, see his kids and make things right," Burns recalled. "That’s what veterans do for veterans."
Also at the ceremony in Grandville was a table set for MIA/POW soldiers. It included an upside-down glass to signify those who cannot join in on the toasts of the day, a slice of lemon to commemorate the bitterness of loss, and a single candle to signify hope, and to light the way home.
West Michigan residents honor their veterans
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