BELOIT - The weather might have been frigid on Veterans Day, but it didn't stop the heroes or those who wished to honor the veterans at the Flags of Honor Veterans Day Tribute ceremony at Culver's on Monday.
"In December of 1945 at the Battle of the Bulge, it was pretty cold too. While we shiver and shrug it's nothing compared to the sacrifice of our veterans who have endured much colder," said Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski.
Monday's event kicked off with a welcome by Master of Ceremonies Randy Gracyalny and the Rock County Sheriff's Office Flag team presenting the colors. Tim Pogorelski sang the National Anthem, Mark Finnegan led the Pledge of Allegiance, Pastor Phil Allen led the invocation and Joe Locke led the Military Medley Tribute.
The first speaker, Zibolski, thanked veterans. He noted how police recently had the honor of escorting the late U.S. Army Sgt. Robert W. McCarville back to Beloit after he was identified thanks to new DNA evidence. At age 24, he had died in action on Dec. 5, 1942 in combat operations during an assault against Japanese positions in current day Papua, New Guinea during the Battle of Buna-Gona.
Zibolski also noted U.S. Army Reservist Lt. and Beloit Police officer Christopher Hoefs, 29, is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.
"There's not a family not touched by a veteran serving or one who was lost," said State Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton.
Culver's Corporation co-founder Lea Culver said her personal mantra is to have courage and be kind.
"The courage that each of you veterans faced takes courage to a whole different level," Culver said.
Finnegan gave an update on this spring's VetsRoll, an all-expense paid trip to see war memorials in Washington D.C. Finnegan said the oldest living Iwo Jima veteran, a major in World War II from Stockton, California, will be attending at age 105. The trip will also attract a veteran from Texas who served the "trifecta" in World War II, Korea and Vietnam as well as a 97-year-old Rosie the Riveter from Pennsylvania.
"You are supporting that and the incredible closure we are giving," Finnegan said.
Finnegan later noted the Culver's fundraiser was expected to raise around $30,000 for VetsRoll.
The following veterans received flags during Monday's ceremony: Korean War veteran and Pastor Don Brooks, Vietnam veteran Larry Arft, Vietnam veteran Tom Nightingale, Korean War veteran Richard Gerhard, Post Korean War/Cold War Era veteran Henry Osborne and the family of the late Korean War veteran Kenneth Byerley. Byerley's daughters Karen Knutsen, Mary Rogers and Kathy Warren accepted the flag on his behalf.
Toward the end of the ceremony, Rock County Sheriff's Office offered its flag folding team; Tom Dummer played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes; the Beloit VFW and the Marine Corps League Honor Detail conducted the gun salute; Rick West played "Taps," Gracyalny read "The 13 Folds" and Tim Pogorelski led a rendition of "America the Beautiful."