BELOIT - City and county officials honored the nation's heroes at the Flags of Honor Veterans Day Tribute on Sunday, held at Beloit Culver's restaurant.
The event included a presentation of colors by the Rock County Sheriff's Office Flag Team, a military medley tribute, guest speakers, a VetsRoll presentation, a flag folding ceremony and presentation to special honorees, patriotic songs and more.
Master of Ceremonies Randy Gracyalny spoke about how the event celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of World War I as well as celebrating the veterans.
Pastor Terry Morehouse led an invocation, speaking about the sacrifice veterans have made for the United States.
He noted the millions who have served have come from all walks of life.
"Today, nothing is higher than the sacrifice our men and women have made, other than the sacrifice that Jesus made for us," Morehouse said. "Without them, we would not be standing here today.
Numerous City of Beloit officials were guest speakers at the event, including City Manager Lori Curtis Luther, Police Chief David Zibolski and Fire Chief Brad Liggett. Rock County Sheriff-elect Troy Knudson also spoke.
Luther spoke about the legacy the city will have with a new combat ship being constructed bearing the name USS Beloit.
"It's going to mean to me not just a recognition of Fairbanks Morse where the engines are built and their relationship with the Navy and US military over the years," Luther said. "It also really speaks to the contributions of our veterans here in Beloit and how special and how meaningful that is...this is a great opportunity to recognize those who served from Beloit, and I am oh so proud to do so."
Zibolski called for everyone to remember history, especially the history of those who have served.
"It's also fortunate we live in an environment we recognize not just the physical sacrifices, but the mental toll it takes on our vets," Zibolski said. "Having those conversations and leaning on your friends and family for support is really a very good thing."
Liggett encouraged everyone to look into their own genealogies to see who has served in their families, while making sure to ask for veterans' stories before it's too late.
"It's amazing the history we all have regarding the contributions to our freedoms," Liggett said.
He also called on every person to support the troops no matter where they are politically.
Knudson called on everyone to see veterans as the role models they are.
"Our community has faced struggles and hardships...but seeing the way these veterans served and still stand tall, I know there's a future for us," Knudson said.
VetsRoll co-founder Mark Finnegan described how life-changing it is for those who volunteer to take veterans and Rosie-the-riveters to the nation's capital every year.
"We need more of that in our lives: the patriotism," Finnegan said.
During the event, Finnegan presented five flags to special honorees with the help of the RCSO Flag Team.
The honorees included George Olson, a Navy veteran from World War II; Mel Wirkus, a World War II army veteran; James Akbar, a Vietnam war Army veteran; Louise Lee, a Rosie-the-riveter during World War II; and Marcus Marzette, a marine veteran who served during the Vietnam War.
With the holiday season approaching, Finnegan encouraged everyone to record their relatives' stories before it is too late.
For more information, go to VetsRoll.org.