CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan – South Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers serving in Afghanistan took time to pay homage on Veterans Day, as they participated in a ceremony at Camp Phoenix to pause and remember the service and sacrifices of those veterans who have gone before them.
“We gather here this day – at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month – to participate in the same tradition of honoring all who have faithfully served our great nation in the causes of peace, justice, and liberty,” said Capt. Kenny Honken, of Freeman, S.D., chaplain, 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
“November 11 is a day of reflection upon ‘the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory’ of the American Armed Forces in The Great War,” continued Honken, quoting President Woodrow Wilson, who originally recognized Armistice Day in 1919, commemorating the end of World War I. “Some 30-years later, under President Eisenhower, that same honor of remembering the sacrifices of our nation’s fighting force was extended to all veterans, regardless of the conflict in which they served.”
Members of the Sioux Falls-based 196th continuing that service, took a few minutes to break from their duties in the war effort to reflect on the holiday's meaning to them as veterans.
"I think [Veterans Day] means more now because it’s my second time,” said Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Hintz, of Watertown, S.D. “Both of my grandfathers served before me in World War II and the Korean War. It’s kind of a legacy in our family for someone to be in the military to serve. I feel like I’m doing my part.”
“I am proud to be a veteran here in Afghanistan on Veterans Day,” added Spc. Cassandra Hiemstra, of Springfield, S.D. “I am the first one in my family to be here and I feel very proud to serve for all the people that have fallen.”
Two-time Afghanistan-war veteran Command Sgt. Maj. Darwin Rahder, of Rapid City, S.D., said this holiday has more meaning for him as he watches younger Soldiers like Hiemstra experience it here.
“The most exciting part of being deployed for a second time on Veterans Day is to watch the first-time deployed servicemembers being here on this day,” he said. “Next year when they are home...it will have a whole different meaning to them.”
During the ceremony, Chaplain Honken called for a moment of silence to honor America’s veterans from all the conflicts, campaigns and wars in which they have served, and to show gratitude for their selfless heroism.
“I’m very proud to be a first-time deployed soldier in Afghanistan on Veterans Day,” said 2nd Lt. Michael Warkenthien, of Sioux Falls, S.D. “I am very honored to be serving in the footsteps of all the veterans who have gone before us and sacrificed their lives before us.”
This work, SD Soldiers serving in Afghanistan honor past veterans, by MAJ Anthony Deiss, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.