FORT BLISS, Texas - Fort Bliss held a Veterans Day ceremony to honor past and present service members at Memorial Circle, Nov. 7.
The ceremony, which was attended by more than 300 service members, was highlighted by speeches from Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, Fort Bliss and 1st Armored Division commander, and Ralph Sanchez, retired Army master sergeant. Additionally, Sgt. Sean Landers, a soldier of 1st Armored Division, received the Silver Star for combat actions while serving in Afghanistan.
"It is up to us to ensure every veteran knows that his or her service in this country is appreciated," said MacFarland. "Whether they fought on the beaches of Normandy or the hills of Eastern Afghanistan or the tropical jungles of Vietnam or the urban jungles of Iraq, they share a common bond as guardian of our nation's freedom and our way of life."
Sanchez, who served a combat tour in Vietnam from December 1966 to December 1967, extended his appreciation for not only past and present service members but their families.
"Today, I would like to recognize and address a veteran's group who has not received a combat patch," said Sanchez, "but still had a job just as hard as our soldiers. These hardcore veterans are the wives and family members of our military. And, I applaud you."
The Silver Star presentation was a rarity for the Fort Bliss commander, who admitted it was the first time he had ever presented the award to a soldier in country. Landers, who was joined by his mother on stage, received the award for selfless service and bravery during combat action in Afghanistan.
Landers gave a short speech of appreciation, but wanted to remind everyone the award, while honorable, is bittersweet as several of his fellow soldiers were lost in the effort.
The ceremony fittingly culminated with taps, which beckoned a solemn remembrance for the sacrifices of all those service members who fought valiantly on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shorts, to preserve the U.S. heritage of freedom.