A Veterans Day service was held in Appleton on Sunday at the Outagamie County Courthouse to honor those who dedicated their lives to protecting and serving the United States. 

The service began at 11 a.m. As the clock struck 11, church bells rang out in the city to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Armistice Day, which was the end of World War I.

What’s special about having so many veterans gathered together in one room, as was the case inside the courthouse on Sunday, is the amount of history between them.

Some served in World War II, others in Vietnam or the Korean War. 

One veteran said that we should all talk about that dedication to service a little more, including veterans themselves. 

“Too many of us don’t honor ourselves,” John Gilbert, an Army veteran, said. “We don’t talk about our wars, we don’t talk about our services…we just don’t do it. And that’s really a sad thing, I think, because these men and women really served hard, long services…they should really stand up and say, ‘Hey, I’m proud I served.’ I’m proud I served, very proud of it.”

These veterans protected our country in a way that America could continue to be the country that it is. They have defended our democracy from outside threats. 

“We went out and fought for the brave and the free,” Leroy Van Asten, an Army veteran, said. ” And if it wasn’t for the Army and the military, there wouldn’t be no free.” 

Not all of our veterans came home to a warm welcome, just ask any of them who served in Vietnam. 

That’s why we pay our respects to our veterans this Sunday, and thank them for their service when we see them out and about. 

“That was the hardest part of Vietnam, was the fact that we came home and we were called different names for being there,” Gilbert said. “War is war, we have to preserve our freedom somehow, and if going to war is what it takes, that’s what we do. We do it as American citizens. We honor our guys because of the fact that they went with us or those that went before us.”

After the ceremony, the American Legion Post 38 served a free lunch for veterans and the McGuinness Irish Pub served free pints to veterans.