FLORENCE — Mary Day Smith stood Sunday in front of the Veterans Memorial at Veterans Park and echoed the slogan coined by American Legion national commander James E. Koutz.
"As our national commander says, "Every day is Veterans Day,' " Smith, the adjutant for Florence's American Legion Post 11, said during an afternoon Veterans Day ceremony.
She said she hopes more Americans stop to recognize and appreciate the impact veterans have on their lives and have had on history.
"People don't realize when they pass by this memorial and see the displays, they are passing by history," Smith said.
Mayor Mickey Haddock, a past commander of the post, said we owe it to veterans to remember them daily.
"We recognize that all of our veterans have given something for our country, and some gave everything," Haddock said. "We recognize the soldiers who have set aside their personal well-being for their country. Thank you for your sacrifices."
Retired Lt. Col. Ed Yeilding, of Florence, was among those attending the ceremony.
"It is important to remember the efforts and sacrifices of our men and women," Yeilding said. "This was really a nice service. I'm very impressed with the leadership of the American Legion here."
Yeilding also commended Tommy Chapin and his son, Randy Chapin, for their efforts at the memorial. The men are dedicated to the maintenance and upkeep of the memorial.
"They are out here every day. We really appreciate what they do."
The Florence post on Court Street is the oldest active post in Alabama. Smith said the building was constructed in 1936.
She said there is a national movement by the Legion to add members. The goal is to have 3.3 million members by 2019, which is the 100th anniversary of the organization.
"There are 16 million veterans in the United States," Smith said. "Only 2.3 million are members of the Legion."
The Florence post is one of the largest in Alabama, with about 1,000 members, Smith said. "We want to gain 500 members by 2019 locally."
Large numbers mean more clout when Legion officials lobby Congress for veterans' issues such as improving the G.I. Bill, Smith said.
Two events are scheduled for today, in recognition of Veterans Day. The University of North Alabama is hosting a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the amphitheater. In the event of rain, it will be at the Guillot University Center. A parade is scheduled for 11 a.m. in downtown Tuscumbia, with a ceremony on the Colbert County Courthouse lawn at 11:30 a.m.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.