Against a backdrop of music from the 108th U.S. Army National Guard Band, about 500 people gathered in Scottsdale's McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park during its annual Veterans Day celebration on Tuesday to honor the men and women who served in the armed forces.
Gov. Janet Napolitano, Major Gen. David Rataczak, Howard Lein of the veterans support group Sentinels of Freedom and Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross were among the notable speakers to say thanks for their service and sacrifice in times of conflict.
Manross, whose mother served with the U.S. Marines during World War II and whose three uncles served in the military during that time, said: "It's important to teach our youth the history to know what you did so they can remember."
Napolitano was quick to say that Veterans Day in Arizona is not just a one-day activity. Arizona is one of the largest veteran-populated states, with more than 625,000 veterans, and she said many of them are participating in round-table discussions throughout the state to improve support for veterans and their families.
Many of those in the crowd had long put their weapons and bayonets down and now rely on walkers and canes.
More than 1,000 World War II veterans die each day, according to statistics from the U.S. Veterans Administration Public Affairs Office.
Eugene Walker, 90, of Scottsdale, and Arthur Farrow, 86, a winter visitor from Massachusetts, were two among many World War II veterans in attendance.
Farrow was a ball-turret gunner on a B-24 bomber with the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943-45.
Walker, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1937-59 and is a Pearl Harbor survivor, mostly worked in radio communications throughout his military career, which also included service in the Korean War; Walker said he was "never shot at."
"I was lucky," Walker said. "Now, I come to honor the men I served with."
Farrow maneuvered a machine gun from a swivel seat in a glass "turret-ball" on the bottom of a B-24 bomber that completed 27 of 35 missions over Italy, Germany and France.
"We were forced down eight times because of being shot at," Farrow said. "And an early return was the worst experience, because we didn't complete our mission. We were supposed to release our bombs against the enemy, and didn't get to."