Highland Village and Churchill County Senior Center honored local veterans Friday in Veterans Day ceremonies.
Highland recognized both veterans among their residents as well as those on staff. With the resident veterans gathering in a place of honor at the front of the room, a Naval Air Station Fallon color guard presented the flag as the National Anthem was sung.
The Rev. H. Gene Stringer began the event by telling some of the history and importance of Veterans Day. The day was originally called Armistice Day and served to honor the sacrifices of those who served in World War I; in 1954, it became Veterans Day and was expanded to commemorate the veterans of all U.S. conflicts.
Stringer recalled the sacrifices veterans make, then and now —missing holidays, birthdays and other family events — to protect the nation and preserve its freedom.
“Veterans want to live just like everyone else,” he said. “But they put service to their country first, no matter the political power in charge or the divisions of petty arguments going on at the time; they sacrifice everything so that we might live and enjoy freedom.”
Jonathan Lazenby, commander of American Legion Post 16, and Ken Clasen, adjutant of the post, presented certificates of commendation to each veteran in attendance. Lisa Gonzales, social services director at Highland, then presented Gentiva certificates to all of the residents and a few staff members.
“This commendation is awarded for commitment to serving the United States Armed Forces in the name of freedom and democracy and for courageously defending our liberty and independence,” said Clasen, reading the commendation from the American Legion.
As each commendation was presented, Lazenby saluted the veterans and thanked them for their service.
World War II veteran Machinist Mate Second Class Andrew Koger said he liked Veterans Day celebrations and appreciated everyone taking time to recognize and thank them for their service.
“I get touched, you know,” he said. “I get a tear in my eye.”
Once the colors were retired, the residents were treated to a reception with cookies, chips, pretzels and beer. Some of the residents enjoyed some time with the staff and caregivers, having a snack as they reminisced about their service.
At the Churchill County Senior Center, the visitors gathered in the dining room auditorium; as the ceremony began, it was asked that everyone who had served stand. As about a dozen men and women stood, applause of thanks and appreciation rang out in their honor.
Lisa Erquiaga, executive director of the senior center, noted there were many veterans who came to the center. She said Veterans Day was especially prominent for some because of the recent election and the current global atmosphere.
“It means a lot to be able to honor them,” she said.