BEMIDJI-Every branch of the United States military was represented Friday at the Bemidji Senior Activity Center, two days ahead of Veterans Day.
"A lot of our members at our veterans events have served in each of the branches, so we feel it's important to honor all of them, as well as their spouses and families," Senior Center Manager Michelle Crow said. "This is something we do annually to honor our veterans. It's an important day for our community."
A program in their honor Friday featured music by veteran and longtime civic leader Joe Vene, as well as performances by the First City Singers. Along with the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," the First City Singers performed songs representing each branch, from "The Marines Hymn" to "Anchors Aweigh."
Generally, Crow said the event takes place on Veterans Day, but this year it was moved, as the holiday falls on a Sunday.
Friday's ceremony also featured Wendell Affield, a local veteran and author who said those who've served should tell their stories.
"I want you all to think about preserving your story for future generations and your family," Affield said. "In doing research about end of life concerns that veterans face, one of the regrets veterans have is that they haven't shared and documented their military experience. It's a unique part of our life. Less than 10 percent of the population serves in the military, so it's truly a unique and life-molding experience."
George Dahl, a U.S. Navy veteran who served from 1951-1954, said he was happy with Friday's opportunity to meet with other veterans.
"It was really good," Dahl said after the event. "I really enjoyed it, he (Affield) did a really good job."
Another Veterans Day event, organized by the American Legion, is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11. Taking place at the Bemidji Eagles, 1270 Neilson Ave. SE, the event will feature a program at 2 p.m. with a dinner at 2:30 p.m.
More Veterans Day ceremonies are scheduled after the holiday. Several local schools have events planned on Monday. And at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 13, there will be a presentation of colors and a flag raising ceremony outside Deputy Hall at BSU. Then, at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 14, there will be a Missing Man Recognition ceremony at the Lakeside dining area in Hobson Memorial Union at BSU. A third event is scheduled from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, with a Veterans Assistance Center open house set up in Decker Hall, room 102 at BSU.
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day and was established on Nov. 11, 1919, commemorating the first anniversary of the end of World War I. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for annual observance and it became a national holiday in 1938.
In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day.