A special ceremony in Fishers on Nov. 10 honored veterans of the U.S. Armed Services with music, a keynote address by retired Vice Adm. Terry M. Cross of the U.S. Coast Guard and special pins for every veteran attending the celebration at the Fishers YMCA.
Veterans Day is Nov. 11, which this year fell on a Saturday. Therefore, the official observed holiday was the day before.
Vocalist Tiffany Strauss and Cindy Baney, choral director for Fishers Junior High School, presented Baney’s original song, “Honor,” which she said she wrote for her late father, who served in the U.S. Air Force.
“It was my gift to him,” she said. “But my dad would never let me say it was just for him. He said I always had to say it was for all veterans.”
In his address to the crowd, Vice Admiral Cross — who was inducted into the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame in 2021 — said that he has attended many Veterans Day celebrations over the years, “and I’ve not seen anything except one visit to the White House to compare with this. You’re all to be congratulated.”
Cross jokingly compared serving as an officer in the US. Coast Guard in Indiana to the Easter Bunny.
“Your mother told you there was one, but you never saw it,” he said.
Cross said he often speaks to school groups, and enjoys educating children about the Armed Forces, about the history of Veterans Day — originally called Armistice Day — and the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
“It’s amazing to me how many people conflate those two,” he said. “Of course, Memorial Day is to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom in service of our country. On Veterans Day, we’re honoring everyone who served honorably in any one of the nation’s five armed forces.”
Cross also talked about the challenges all branches of the military are experiencing with recruiting and retention, noting that it’s more difficult for those who are serving when the numbers are down. But, he said, in Indiana about 6 percent of the population chooses to serve, which is a significant number compared to other parts of the country.
He said it seems to be part of Hoosier culture, and recalled speaking engagements at schools where the gymnasiums were packed, and patriotic songs were performed.
“My favorite thing was a slideshow,” he said. “The teachers would ask the students to bring in pictures of members of their family or veterans and then during a portion of the program, those pictures were shown in a rolling slideshow with a huge screen in back in the podium.”
Cross said that during the slideshows, he could hear individual kids saying, “That’s my dad” or “That’s my mom.”
He also referred to the many veterans monuments in the state, and to the Indiana War Memorial Museum.
“It’s a magnificent tribute to the history of our country and the history of Hoosier veterans,” he said. “If you haven’t been there, you should go.”
Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness also spoke, thanking veterans in attendance and members of the Fishers Armed Services Committee. He said that honoring those who have served is an important tradition that should be maintained.
“Every Veterans Day, every Memorial Day, we’re here and we’re glad to be here,” he said. “I’m proud today to say that I live in the community that, if you’re a veteran … we’re proud to have you here.”
Fadness and Cross presented special City of Fishers pins to all veterans who attended the event. The pins were engraved with “2023,” and Fadness said new pins will be made for Veterans Day keepsakes each year.