Veterans’ story is of peace

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Iola Boy Scouts and their leaders marched in Saturday’s Veterans Day parade. At bottom right, Kansas Sen. Derek Schmidt listens as Alfred Link introduces him to speak during the Veterans Day observation in downtown Iola. Below at left, Iolan Bob Burns, wearing his Navy uniform, was among a handful of veterans who suited up for the events. Below middle, Iolan Bob Lane, a World War II veteran, rode the parade route in a National Guard Humvee.

The “real story of our veterans is not the story of war, but the story of peace and liberty,” said State Sen. Derek Schmidt Saturday as the keynote speaker for Iola’s Veterans Day observation.
“Americans have not taken up arms for foreign conquest, adventure or empire,” Schmidt said. “Americans have taken up arms to defend a notion of liberty that was unique in all the world when it first was written down 222 years ago. ... That notion, that free people could govern themselves freely if left to their own devices, was enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America.”
Schmidt said that “while our nation has not always lived up to the ideals of our Constitution, we have over time always struggled to move closer to those ideals,” namely, “... to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare ...
“Each of us who serves this nation takes an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, not its parchment, but its commands.
“The ideals for which Americans fought and died more than two centuries ago remain the ideals for which Americans fight and die today. As time marches on, so does the cause of human liberty and freedom to which we all are dedicated.”
Schmidt spoke at 11 a.m., the hour when World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918.
Afterward, Iola Elks had a bean feed preceding the 20th parade of the revived Veterans Day celebration in Iola.

THE FIRST celebration here was the afternoon of Nov. 11, 1918, after word was received that the armistice had been signed to conclude hostilities of the “war to end all wars.” Factory whistles blared and Iolans flooded downtown to cheer and celebrate well into the night.
Armistice Day was observed for years afterward to honor World War I veterans. The celebration was expanded to include all veterans when President Eisenhower signed legislation making it Veterans Day in 1954.
Iola’s celebrations shrank and finally ended in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and were brought back 20 years ago.