Rapid City community braves cold to honor veterans - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City community braves cold to honor veterans

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What started as Armistice Day almost a century ago is now Veterans Day, celebrated on the 11th day of the 11th month every year.

Here in Rapid City, the remembrance kicked off Sunday morning at the 11th hour, and despite the bitter cold, supporters lined the streets for this year's parade downtown.

"It's giving something back that's really well-deserved," said Earl Kessel after the parade.

"I just came down to support the guys," added Craig Johnson.
 
Everyone had their own reasons for lining the streets.
 
"My dad's in the parade," Johnson said. "He's an Army veteran."

"Both our fathers are veterans, so it takes a place in our heart," Jane Kessel, Earl's wife, said.

"I'm a veteran," said Jim McCann, "and I like to share the time with veterans."

But all those reasons point to an undeniable fact: With more than 21 million vets across the country, there's probably at least one service member -- past, present, or future -- in your life.
 
"They should be honored every day, not just on one day," Earl Kessel said.
 
It's not the individual reasons that brought people together in wind chills that barely reached into double-digits; it's the respect everyone shares.
 
"If they can be out here, we can be out here," said Jane Kessel.
 
"This is nothing compared to what the veterans have done for us," Johnson added. "So this is the least we could do is come down here."
 
To honor a veteran population that's always growing and always shrinking.
 
"When that bus came by with the World War II veterans, that was emotional to see them," McCann said, "because my dad was a World War II veteran, and you see fewer and fewer."
 
The last American World War I soldier, Frank Buckles, died early last year.

And with under 2 million World War II vets still living in the U.S., people in Rapid City are wasting no time in saying thanks for a job well done.

The city honored veterans at other points throughout the holiday as well, with a V.F.W. luncheon, a patriotic concert in Main Street Square, and a Dakota Choral Union concert featuring a salute to veterans.

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