The sun smiled on Carbon County Friday afternoon as residents, veterans, and employees of the county gathered in the Josiah White Park in Jim Thorpe to honor the men and women who served this country.
During the annual Veterans Day program, hosted by the Carbon County Veterans Council, a number of speakers addressed the crowd about the importance of remembering those who fought for our freedoms.
Henry Desrosiers, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs in Carbon County, welcomed everyone to the event.
Desrosiers then spoke about what it means to be a veteran.
"Veterans Day is a time to honor not just those who have fought in battle, but all the men and women who served in our armed forces," he said. "Not all veterans have seen war, but a common bond they share is an oath in which they express their willingness to die defending this nation. We gather here today to recognize all of our honored veterans whose service has allowed our nation to prosper and allowed us all to live our lives in freedom."
He recognized the families and those who made the ultimate sacrifice and never made it home.
Following Desrosiers, Carbon County Commissioners Wayne Nothstein, Thomas J. Gerhard, and William O'Gurek; as well as keynote speaker Maj. Gen. George H. Duell Jr., U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador for Pennsylvania spoke.
Nothstein spoke about the struggles military families face.
He noted that there are programs available to help these men and women get the support they need.
He thanked the veterans for their dedication to the country.
Gerhard spoke about the important role our service men and women play for this country and how without them, this country would not be as great as it is.
He also recognized his father, former county Commissioner Tom Gerhard, who is also a veteran.
"I am proud to say I am the son of a veteran," he said. "It was my dad who taught me as a young boy about the value of service and freedom. He taught me to respect and honor all of those who served. This is what gives us the right to gather here today, to honor these men and women who bravely fought for our country. To all of you, our veterans, to the fallen and to the families we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
O'Gurek echoed his colleague's thoughts.
"Veterans Day is set aside to recognize the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States," he said. "It's a day to thank them for having served honorably in the military in wartime and in peace time and it's a day to show them our appreciation for the contributions that they have made to our country.
O'Gurek encouraged all in attendance to thank local veterans for their service to their country.
Duell then addressed the audience.
"During this Veterans Day period we pause to remember the sacrifices that our veterans have made to our nation," he said, adding that all were fully aware of their responsibilities and if asked would say this was their job. "They served their country with commitment and dedication and many with courage and bravery."
Duell asked all to remember to support veterans and help them when needed.
"They were there for us in time of war. We must be there for them in time of peace," he concluded.
Angela Nardini then sang God Bless America, and members of the color guard fired a 21-gun salute, while "Taps" was played on the bugle.
Other veterans organizations in attendance included American Legions from Jim Thorpe and Palmerton and the Vietnam Veterans of Carbon County. Gil Henry, American Legion Post 304 chaplain, also provided the invocation and benediction.