A forecast for freezing temperatures and snow prompted the cancellation of Indianapolis’ annual Veterans Day Parade and forced the Veterans Day service from outside on the steps of the Indiana War Memorial to the Pershing Auditorium inside.
The event still drew a substantial crowd of veterans, families and dignitaries to commemorate the day.
“I can’t think of a better venue than here … to honor those who wore that uniform,” said Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, himself a Navy veteran.
“On behalf of our great patriotic state, thank you to every Hoosier veteran who served, and to their families who spent so much time apart so that we don’t have to,” Holcomb added.
Keynote speaker Robert Spanogle, past national commander and past national adjutant of The American Legion, noted the painting of General John “Black Jack” Pershing looming behind him.
“I’m going to stand at attention a little bit; I understand he was a kind of by-the-book commander,” Spanogle said of Pershing, himself named honorary national commander of the Legion at the 1926 national convention.
Spanogle, Indiana’s Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, paused briefly before beginning his speech, an appropriate action as “silence” was a key term of his address.
“(This day) once was a celebration of silencing the cannons of World War I. Now it’s a day when nations around the world pause in a moment of silence, with solemn pride in remembrance of the heroism of those who have served, those who are currently serving, and those who died in our country’s service,” Spanogle said. “Our world is not a silent world; it’s not a peaceful world either. Just as we struggle to be silent, to be still for a moment, our world struggles with wars, strife, injustice, hunger, disease, and it cries out in need. … Our servicemembers heeded that call.”
Spanogle noted that Veterans Day isn’t just a holiday for those who served and their families. “For many veterans, it’s just another day of memories that drive them to live their lives each day as best as they possibly can," he said. "For our troops, it’s another day in harm’s way. For their families, this is another day to feel the absence of a loved one and be concerned for their safety. For our wounded warriors, it’s another day of slow and arduous recovery, and for others, it’s another day when the grief of a loss is still fresh. …
“Let’s remember those who are deployed in the service of our country. Let’s remember those who, because they paid the ultimate sacrifice, cannot be with us today."
Stewart Goodwin, the executive director of the Indiana War Memorial and the emcee for the service, encouraged those attending to remember that “every day is Veterans Day.”
“We must remember our veterans every day,” Goodwin said.