BALLINGER - Hundreds of citizens came out to honor the men and women who serve in the military during the Veterans Day Tribute held on the Runnels County Courthouse lawn on Friday, Nov. 11.

BALLINGER - Hundreds of citizens came out to honor the men and women who serve in the military during the Veterans Day Tribute held on the Runnels County Courthouse lawn on Friday, Nov. 11. The event, sponsored by the VFW Post 9196 and the Runnels County Veterans Service Office, honored the more than 800 veterans in the county who have served in all branches of the military. The event began with a flag raising, prayerful remembrance, heartfelt speeches a parade and ended with a lunch for the community.

The flag raising ceremony was held at the veteran’s monument, and Commander John Multer, of the VFW Post 9196 in Rowena explained the origin of Veterans day.

“When World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918, this day was declared as ‘Armistice Day.’ In 1954 the day was renamed ‘Veterans Day’ to honor all veterans who served America and defended democracy.

“Veterans are people, men and women who served in the military – US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard to protect us,” Multer said. “They were ordinary people who heard the call of duty and answered it. They served in any capacity that their branch of the military assigned them to do stateside or overseas duty. They responded to do the work, required to win the war and maintain our way of life.

“As we honor our veterans and remember their great deeds, let us also salute those who are currently fighting and serving in the military,” he continued. “Let us also remember our fallen heroes who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.”

Rev. Art Mavrode, a veteran of the Air Force Security Service, Disabled American Veteran member and pastor of the United Methodist Church in Melvin, was the featured speaker.

He discussed the importance of the oath that all military service members take to make the commitment to serve.

“I respect that oath, no matter who is my superior, who is my officer, I will respect their commands,” Mavrode said.

Mavrode discussed the importance of integrity, respecting others and excellence.

“This is who we are,” he said. “We do not shirk from the battles of life. We do not hide from the enemy. We are faithful to our families and our flag. God bless America and God bless our veterans.”

With that, Father Hubert Wade, a Vietnam veteran, offered the closing prayer.

The Veterans Day Parade followed, and citizens lined downtown Ballinger in a show of respect for the veterans in the parade. Organizations represented in the parade included the Runnels Count Veterans Service Office, 354th Bravo Company from Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, VFW Post 9196, American Legion, Ballinger Fire Department, Winters Volunteer Fire Department, Ballinger Noon Lions Club, Norton Lions Club, ROTC, Olfen ISD and other groups and individuals.

More than 400 people attended the barbecue lunch held at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church Parish Hall.

“This is the fifth year we’ve done this,” Wade said. “This is the biggest it has ever been.”

The barbecue brisket was prepared by Justin Busenlehner and many others helped prepare sides of potatoes, green beans and desserts.

The members of the Goodfellow Air Force Base were the first to get in the chow line.

“This is awesome man,” said Private Mullis of the company.