Veterans remember fallen, Fort Hood

November 11, 2009 4:30:58 PM PST
Given the recent deaths at Fort Hood, this Veterans Day was filled with an unusual mix of recognition and reflection -- recognition for those who have and do serve. But also a day of remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifices just last week on US soil at Fort Hood. [PHOTOS: Viewer photos of Veterans honored]
[SUBMIT PHOTOS: Send your pics of those you want to honor]

At Houston City Hall, veterans and civilians gathered Wednesday morning to salute those who have served and those who do serve in the US military. Veterans young and old -- no matter their age -- came together to honor their common bond -- their sacrifice.

"I'm just here to support them, and say thank you," a parade goer said.

What many don't know is that the first Veterans Day was declared by President Woodrow Wilson 80 years ago. In 2009, there are 24 million vets living in the US -- three-fourths have served during war or time of official conflict.

"It's staggering to think of how many American men and women have raised their right hand and pledged to answer that call to defend freedom," said Army Chief Warrant Officer Candis Martin.

On top of that statistic, at any given time, a tenth of our military are Texans.

"Freedom is not free," veteran Sgt. Louis Demerson said.

Veterans marched downtown in a parade of brother and sisterhood, their lives linked forever by their commitment to country. It is clear from the turnout for the parade that they work they do is not forgotten.

Though Memorial Day is supposed to be reserved to honor those who died in battle, this Veterans Day is different because of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, with the deaths of 12 soldiers and a civilian still so fresh.

"It was unusual that we see deaths on a US base," Houston Mayor Bill White said. "But we shall never, never take the sacrifice made in the field, made by veterans now and in the past, as routine."

No combat death is routine for any soldier. Even if they don't know the fallen, they said they feel the loss a little deeper this Veterans Day.

"I tell you one thing, I believe in America," veteran Joe l. Gutierrez said, "and I bleed red, white and blue."

At Fort Hood, all thoughts and prayers are felt and welcomed. Eyewitness News just left there Wednesday morning after covering the shooting rampage there the last few days. Those we talked to say the best way to honor those who died at Army post is to celebrate and support those who continue to serve.

Earlier in the day in west Houston, students honored our nation's veterans and the victims of the Fort Hood shootings before classes began at the flagpole in front of the school.

They sang patriotic songs, read poems and listened as veterans spoke about what it was like to serve in the military.Afterward, a student released 13 balloons, one at time, representing each of the victims killed last week at Fort Hood.

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