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DeKalb marks Veterans Day with downtown ceremony: ‘They deserve our respect’

The ceremony was one of the several programs put on around DeKalb County to commemorate veterans and their service to the country.

Veterans Manuel Olalde (right) looks at a wreath posted on a stand as Mike Embrey (left) stands in salute during a Veterans Day ceremony held in downtown DeKalb Nov. 11, 2022.

DeKALB – Rich Tempel knows all too well that veterans deserve more honor and respect than just once a year on Veterans Day.

The DeKalb resident said veterans need their communities’ continued support daily throughout the year, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.

“I think a lot of them are just neglected,” Tempel said. “They have to put up with a lot of grief and a lot of nonsense. They deserve our respect because without them, I would shudder to think what our society would be like now. I really do.”

DeKalb American Legion Post 66 hosted its Veterans Day ceremony Friday in downtown DeKalb to pay respect to veterans who have served. The ceremony was joined by several DeKalb and countywide government officials, past and present.

The event is observed annually to coincide with Remembrance Day and Armistice Day, which marks the anniversary of the end of World War I.

Among other things, the ceremony included the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” a laying of the honorary wreath, a veterans prayer and the playing of taps.

The Honors Guard is seen Nov. 11, 2022 in downtown DeKalb at a Veterans Day ceremony.

Mike Embrey, the ceremony’s host and a U.S. Air Force veteran from DeKalb, said it’s a special day for those who have served, and for downtown DeKalb history. Last year, DeKalb veterans marked new life for its century-old Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Clock.

“One year ago today we rededicated our clock,” Embrey said. “This is our World War I clock honoring our World War I veterans.”

Tempel said attending the Veterans Day ceremony meant a great deal to him.

“I’ve been coming out here for several years now,” Tempel said. “I usually walk down from my house. I live over in the 3rd Ward there. I have a lot of family that have been veterans. … I never was a veteran myself, but I sure appreciate every one of them that ever made the sacrifice.”

Embrey said he believes people nowadays are better about stepping up, saying thank you for your service and sending cards.

“It’s important. It makes a great difference,” Embrey said.

Michael Embrey, the ceremony's host and a local veteran, gives remarks Nov. 11, 2022 at a Veterans Day Ceremony in downtown DeKalb.

Embrey said that in some ways he thinks veterans are more appreciated than they were in the past, but there’s still a ways to go.

“For many of us who came home from Vietnam, there wasn’t any welcome home signs,” he said. “There wasn’t any ‘Thank you for your service.’ ”

Embrey said it’s great to see people come out to show support for veterans.