FT. RUCKER, Ala. (WTVY) -- Veterans from the Korean War, Vietnam War and contingency operations live in the Wiregrass. Fort Rucker is one reason. It produces thousands of soldiers. Friday, they honored those who have served and are currently serving with a Veterans Day ceremony at Veteran Park.
Soldiers and veterans sing the Army anthem at Fort Rucker's Veterans Day ceremony. (Source: WTVY)
“First to fight for the right and to build the nation's might,” Army veterans and soldiers sang the anthem proudly. Retired Command Sergeant Otis Smith Jr. was among those standing.
"When I stand here and I’m allowed to stand here after coming from war I think about our soldiers that didn't come home," said Smith.
He says he thinks of Staff Sergeant Booker who was killed in Baghdad on a tank in 2003.
"When you lay down at night and sleep, when you go to school every day, when you get out and travel freely, up and down the highways -- know that someone is out there, protecting you and your rights," said Smith.
The Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage never leave.
"Even though you hang up the uniform one day; whether again whether you serve six months, a year, or 30 years, or 40 years because that is embedded in you. It will go with you to the grave," said Smith.
Fort Rucker Commanding General, Major General David James Francis says people are our greatest asset.
"We don't just honor those that are currently in uniform but all those who have served in uniform," said Francis.
During his speech, he recognized the 75th anniversary of D-day. An operation that had 3,000 soldiers from Alabama.
"Alabama is a patriotic place, and all the surrounding communities in the Wiregrass all have large populations of veterans and continue to serve even today," said Francis. "Thank you to all of our veterans out there. Those who've chosen to serve our country and in uniform, put themselves in harm's way, serving something bigger than themselves."
"If you see a veteran out there, if you know veterans, just thank them for their service not only on Veterans Day, but always think of a Veteran for what they have done in protecting you and your family and your loved one," said Smith.
Smith also says it has been an honor to serve for almost 34 years. He says he gave up college scholarships to serve his country.