On May 21, the Passing of the Torch Ceremony was held at VFW Post 11404. This ceremony symbolizes the passing of the Flame of Freedom to the next generation of armed forces members from those that served before them.
Veterans across multiple generations lined up in front of the crowd for the ceremony. The torch was passed from the oldest veterans to the next generation of service members, symbolizing that the Flame of Freedom will remain fueled into the future.
Garry Smethers, State Commander of the VFW, spoke to the crowd about the importance of the next generation of armed forces as well as the sacrifices that they make to protect our freedoms. He encouraged them to take advantage of their time in the armed forces and use at as a learning opportunity.
“Learn from everybody you come in contact with,” Semthers said. “Everybody has different backgrounds and a different way of looking at things. I know you’re a little nervous, but you’re excited too.”
Smethers expressed his gratitude to the next generation of veterans, saying that he believed every American would like to be there to shake their hand.
Colonel Mark Danner, U.S. Army Recruiting Command Chief of Staff, was also in attendance to voice his support for the next generation of heroes. He told the crowd that only 29 percent of the youth population fully qualify for military service, and of that, only 1/10 are actually considering military service in the next few years.
“I say to you tonight, you are a part of a small group of people that are willing and able to defend this nation,” said Col. Danner.
PFC Erin Jensen, who will be a Combat Medic in just a few short weeks, spoke and thanked her peers for joining her on her journey to serve her country. She also extended her thanks to past and present members of the armed forces.
“We understand for our past and present veterans that it is not always easy to wear that uniform,” Jensen said, “But, it is amazing how, in the face of that adversity that affects us mentally physically and emotionally, that we can rise up above it and be the most amazing soldiers in this beautiful nation that we call home. That’s why I’m so happy and so grateful that I live here in the United States.”