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Nebraska State Fair hosts veterans ceremony on Labor Day

Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 6:11 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Despite everything going on with COVID-19, the Nebraska State Fair continued its annual tradition of honoring veterans and active military members this Labor Day.

More than 300 people attended a veterans ceremony, which started 10 a.m. Monday on the fairgrounds. American Legion and Patriot Guard Riders lined the area holding flags to show their support.

“I was really surprised to see that many people,” said Sgt. First Class Mike Carroll, station commander of the Grand Island Recruiting Station.

“It feels nice. It feels nice being recognized a little bit,” said Private Zachary Stevens, United States Army.

Stevens went to basic training during the pandemic. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, he didn’t get to swear-in in front of friends and family.

He got that chance during the ceremony as one of seven soldiers to announce their oath to enlist in the United States Army.

“I think it’s important. I think it’s important as a community that we celebrate our veterans and our new incoming soldiers. It just kind of brings us together as a family,” Carroll said.

The program also included a presentation of colors by the Grand Island United Veterans Club. People removed their hats and put their hands over their hearts as Raychel Eckhardt sang the National Anthem. A moment of silence was given to recognize prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.

“The fair’s purpose is to celebrate and showcase the wholesome, good things about Nebraska,” said Bill Ogg, executive director of the Nebraska State Fair. “Veterans are certainly the epitome of that wholesomeness and that character of service and can-do.”

The program concluded with a flag folding ceremony, which Stevens participated in.

“That same feeling that myself and other veterans, those that serve, when we see that American flag to be reminded of what it’s there for,” said Travis Karr, the master of ceremonies, a U.S. marine and Operation Iraq Freedom veteran. “We are a nation together, and I hope that’s what people take away from this ceremony.”

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