Veterans Day

Claudia Amrhein, PARTA General Manager, presents veteran Walter Williams a brick inscribed with his name and time served during Kent’s Veterans Day Ceremony in downtown Kent on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Williams served continuously from 1975-1986 in the United States, Korea and Germany.

“It never seems like enough, even as we say it, but thank you for your service,” Sen. John Eklund told an audience at the Veterans Day ceremony  Monday afternoon. 

Hosted by PARTA, the ceremony began with opening remarks and a prayer led by Pastor Dennis Richie, followed by welcoming remarks from Mayor Jerry Fiala.

“I saw something somewhere that a veteran is a person who wrote a blank check and made it payable to the United States of America,” Fiala quoted. “With an amount up to and including their life.” 

Fiala also thanked the American Legion members who led the presentation of colors as well as the three-volley rifle salute.

“It is my honor to stand by the flag with you,” Fiala said. “Our veterans are always in our prayers and our hearts.”

PARTA presented veterans and their families commemorative bricks to be placed in the memorial that stands outside the central gateway. The memorial, dedicated in 2013, has grown each year as bricks are added by family members and veterans in Portage County.

Charles Wright, who served in the Air Force for two years and eight months between 1966-69, was surprised to be presented with a brick at the ceremony.

“I was surprised, I never pictured this happening,” Wright said. “It is an honor to be honored.”

Portage County Commissioner Kathleen Clyde acknowledged the importance of the federal holiday.

“I am so glad we have this day to pay tribute to veterans for the sacrifices they make,” Clyde said. “It is an honor as an elected official to be able to do this on behalf of veterans.”

The day, which started with a buffet lunch provided by the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center, also included performances of The National Anthem and Taps from the Kent Theodoore Roosevelt High School Marching Band.

“I wish I could be with you every day,” said Eklund, who emphasized gratitude to veterans for their protection of citizens’ rights.

“The most precious things we have are the inalienable rights within all of us,” Eklund said. “Today we thank those who defend our rights and other’s rights against those who would take them away.”

Eklund also noted veterans can lead by example of how they respect and honor the rights of citizens. 

“Our veterans serve to set an example of what freedom means, how to enjoy it and defend it,” Eklund said. “They set that example for all generations.”

Wright, who served in the Air Force during Vietnam, was on the fuels or POL team, responsible for refueling B52’s. He said he was grateful for the opportunity to be present at the ceremony, as some couldn’t be there. 

“I am happy that I can help within my community,” Wright said. “Because some people did not make it back and so I am grateful.”

Contact Colleen Carroll at [email protected].