Veterans Services Officer Connie Tanaka leads a small gathering in saluting the flag in a Veterans Day observance Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister)

ONTARIO – A stiff wind put the flags on full display Wednesday, as veterans and supporters turned out for a brief ceremony marking Veterans Day at the plaza in front of Four Rivers Cultural Center.

Connie Tanaka, Malheur County Veterans Services officer, welcomed the group and noted the significance of the timing – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as the time when World War I officially ended. That became known as Armistice Day, a time to honor those who served in what was known as the Great War.

In the United States, the date became a federal holiday – Veterans Day – in 1938, honoring American veterans of all wars.  

American Legion District Commander Dan Burks addressed the group, underscoring the sacrifices made by veterans today and in the past to safeguard this country’s freedoms.

Veterans serve to make life better for the nation, and for others across the globe, Burks said.

Spectators, bundled up against the cold, included area veterans as well as a group of high school students from Four Rivers Community School.

Ralph Wood, who served in the Army from 1969 to 1971 and then in the Oregon National Guard, was among the proud veterans who didn’t let a little brisk weather keep them from the ceremony.

“God bless America,” he said. “It’s the best country in the world. People need to remember that.”

The veterans couldn’t have an indoor lunch gathering this year due to Covid concerns. But volunteers from the American Legion post, the Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars were on hand in front of the Ontario Memorial Veteran’s Hall to hand out free lunches to any veterans driving through.

Other activities marking Veterans Day in Ontario included a “Thanks a Latte” free coffee drive-thru event held by Heart ’n Home Hospice, Assisted Hands Home Care and Brookdale Senior Living; free car washes for veterans at Bluebird Express; and meal deals from various restaurants in the area.

Connie Tanaka, Malheur County's veterans services officer, salutes the flag during the Nov. 11, 2020 ceremony in Ontario. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister)

American Legion Post 67 Commander Dan Burks speaks to the crowd, emphasizing the service and sacrifice of U.S. veterans in all wars. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister)

The event in front of Four Rivers Cultural Center drew veterans, family members, and students for a solemn ceremony on Nov. 11, 2020. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister)

The event in front of Four Rivers Cultural Center drew veterans including Ralph Wood for a solemn ceremony on Nov. 11, 2020. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister)

The flags were flying in the wind as supporters gathered to honor veterans in front of Four Rivers Cultural Center on Nov. 11, 2020. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister)

Students from Four Rivers Community School listen to the speakers at the Veterans Day event on Nov. 11, 2020, in Ontario. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister)

From left, Dodie Bennett, Frank Griffith, Harvey Hatfield Jr. and John Inman prepare to hand out free lunches to any and all veterans driving by at Veteran's Hall after the ceremony on Nov. 11, 2020. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister)

Ellie Johnson was onsite at the lunch to provide information about CaptionCall, a phone service for the hearing impaired, but she also pitched in to wave in veterans as they drove by. (The Enterprise/Scotta Callister)

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