Vets deserve extraordinary day

10/29/2011

Communities could always do more to honor their military veterans.

Communities could always do more to honor their military veterans.

This year in Garden City, the public has a rare opportunity to celebrate Veterans Day in a truly special way — and in part because of an unfortunate development earlier this year on the weather front.

The horrible heat and ongoing drought fueled such dryness in the region that local officials had no choice but to cancel the community's annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

Proof of the threat of grass fires came a number of times in the area before the local decision to ban all fireworks. Understandably, no one wanted a repeat of emergency situations in sparks igniting grass fires that tore across huge swaths of land in southwest Kansas.

With the possibility of multiple fires being started by residents setting off Fourth of July fireworks around Garden City — even though those activities also were banned — it made no sense to put firefighters and others, as well as property, at risk with a community fireworks display.

The demise of this year's Fourth of July fireworks show in Garden City no doubt was disappointing. Yet at the same time, the situation created a rare opportunity to do something extraordinary.

With a deal already in place to use the fireworks this year, city officials were left to consider other ways to cap off a great local event in a star-spangled way.

A variety of options had merit. The fireworks show could go on after the Mosaic concert in August; on Veterans Day weekend; on the night of the Christmas Parade in downtown Garden City; or as part of another community event.

Because the annual Fourth of July fireworks display belongs to the community, citizen input on how to best use the fireworks was needed.

Readers cast votes via The Telegram's online poll, and other public input was gathered. When tallied, votes clearly were in favor of using fireworks as part of a tribute to local veterans — a heartwarming salute to many local and area residents who deserve no less.

The fireworks show — now set for Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Finney County Fairgrounds — will be an ideal way to culminate a celebration planned to honor local veterans and current troops. With the American Legion's annual Veterans Day parade moving to a 2 p.m. start, followed by ROTC demonstrations, a Garden City Municipal Band performance, All-American Beef Battalion food and more at the former armory, those who attend will be treated to a Veterans Day celebration unlike any in Garden City history.

The goal was to make the day as special as possible, and give more people a reason to get involved in the celebration of our military men and women.

Communities have a responsibility to salute veterans and recognize sacrifices they have made and, for many, the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Veterans are our hometown heroes. They deserve a memorable tribute every year, fireworks and all.

This year's celebration could be a catalyst for even bigger Veterans Day celebrations in years to come.

Years ago, Americans wouldn't miss a Veterans Day celebration. Over time, this nation has seemed to become less interested and engaged in those activities — which is all the more troubling during a time of war, and as the nation continues to welcome home its newest veterans.

When event organizers take time each year to gather local veterans in a show of support, the entire community should care enough to show up and offer their salute.

Having fireworks and other entertainment follow the annual parade no doubt will drive more interest in this year's Veterans Day celebration in Garden City. In the end, we still hope a sincere desire to honor the men and women who served our nation is the biggest draw of all.

Email Editor-publisher Dena Sattler at denas@gctelegram.com.

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