It was a day of remembrance and appreciation Monday for those attending the Veterans Day ceremony at The American Legion post 795.
The sound of “Taps” blanketed the crowd, as visitors wept to wailing bagpipes. For some, the event was a chance to recall lost friends. For others — such as Ken Curtzwiler, a retired major in the Nevada Army National Guard — it was a time to remember family.
“This day means a lot to me,” Curtzwiler said.
Over the last four years, Curtzwiler has lost two children with military backgrounds, he said. His son, Kaleb, shot himself in 2010 while dealing with post-traumatic stress, and his daughter, Miranda McElhiney, was shot and killed in 2011 in a Carson City IHOP.
Curtzwiler said Monday’s Veterans Day ceremony is an important event for him. It’s something he attends each year to celebrate both the dead and living.
“We can’t forget the soldiers who come back,” he said.
More than 100 people attended the event, which featured speeches from members of The American Legion, El Dorado County, City of South Lake Tahoe and the community.
Bill Malloy, first vice commander at The American Legion’s South Lake Tahoe branch, spoke of duty and sacrifice.
“As a Vietnam veteran I believe that there is no higher service, no greater purpose, no mission more noble than serving our country in the military,” he said.
“On this Veterans Day,” Malloy added, “we honor veterans and we honor their families, and we offer the thanks of a grateful nation.”
Dave Stoddart, who served in Vietnam from 1966-67, was one of the many veterans who stood in the crowd. He won’t talk about his experiences in the war, but it was all he thought about Monday morning, he said.
“I’ve been going to the VA (Veterans Affairs Department) lately, and I thought I’d pay it back to the veterans,” Stoddart said of going to the ceremony. “I thought I’d pay my respects.”
The Veterans Day event attracted a variety of South Shore residents Monday, from bikers to government officials. Post commander Blair Clark said it’s great to see the community support.
“I’m really very humbled by it,” he said. “I think it’s important because it brings the community together.”