Hundreds of Fort Wayne residents, including veterans and their families, lined Parnell Avenue on Saturday to honor the country's service men and women for Veterans Day.
As candy flew into the crowd from the hands of marchers as they walked to Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, the songs of America's armed forces wafted along the roadway.
The music intertwined with the sound of sirens and bellowed gratitude for the sacrifices made by veterans across history. From the Navy, to the Army, to the Marine Corps, each branch was represented in a parade capped by a ceremony and dedication of a marker from the Indiana Racing Memorial Association.
“It has been 100 years since the U.S. entry into World War I and we must remember our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who answered the call to serve in Europe,” Congressman Jim Banks, R-3rd, said in a statement. “Many conflicts ensued in the decades following ... but the one thing that remains the same is our service members' selfless dedication to defending our democracy.”
After thanking the assembled veterans for their service, Col. Michael Hershman, director of Veterans Affairs Northern Indiana Health Care System, took the opportunity to laud changes underway at the VA system in the last year. Those changes, Hershman said, are expediting decisions related to benefits and disability ratings and providing more freedom of choice in selecting health care.
“My challenge to you on this Veterans Day is to help shape your Northern Indiana Health Care System into a Hoosier Veteran Central Health Care System that not only serves our current veterans, but your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren and veterans to come,” Hershman said. “It's your system, please help us help you.”