BLOOMINGTON — Brothers Fritz and Art Wynn have different memories of past Veterans Day celebrations. Both served in the military and attended the annual Veterans Day ceremony Monday morning on the lawn of the McLean County Museum of History downtown.
Fritz was born on Veterans Day.
“When I was young, we got out of school that day and of course, at that time, that was just fine with me,” he said. “Now, though, it’s a special day and not just because it’s my birthday. It’s a tremendous honor to be born on this day, but now, I am old enough to understand how truly special that is.”
His brother also has changed how he celebrates birthdays with his brother. And, he points out, he’s not the only one.
“Our whole country has changed in the way veterans are recognized on this day,” he said. “When we got back from Vietnam, people were throwing rocks and stones at us and yelling at us. I am so glad and so proud that it’s not that way today.”
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The Wynns, of Bloomington, were among about 200 people who attended the annual
ceremony on a cool, overcast morning.
“Veterans Day is not just about today’s veteran,” said Roy Jones, commander of Bloomington American Legion Post 56, who handled master-of-ceremonies honors. “It is time to honor not just those who have fought for us recently, but all of the outstanding men and women who have served our nation, and that line that stretches back to our forefathers 237 years ago.”
Jones said in September, he traveled to Washington, D.C., for the funeral of Andrew Mitchell, a friend and veteran he served with in Vietnam.
“On the afternoon before the funeral, and on the way back from the Tomb of the Unknowns, my wife and I passed a gentleman and we could both tell from our clothing that we were veterans,” he said. “In passing, our eyes met, we exchanged a firm handshake like long-lost friends. No words were exchanged and we didn’t even break stride. It was an amazingly spontaneous moment.
“We will never meet again and wouldn’t recognize each other if we did. But to all veterans, you have 22 million brothers and sisters and you also have the honor and support of those families of the 22 million. A moment like that reminds me of this.”
A combined color guard consisting of members of the Post 56, American Legion Post 635 of Normal, the Central Illinois Leathernecks, Veterans of Foreign War Post 454, AmVets Post 270 and the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans rendered honors to the flag during the ceremony in downtown Bloomington.