Led by remarks from a former prisoner of war, a crowd of about 200 people created a little pocket of patriotism at Scottsdale’s McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park on Friday afternoon to observe Veterans Day.
Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Browning, the keynote speaker at Scottsdale’s Veterans Day Commemoration, told the gathering that we all need to pause from our hectic lives and remember and recommit to the men and women in our military.
“Freedom, we remember, is not cheap, and there are many here who remember how expensive it can be,” he said.
Browning’s medals include the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. He is also one of the few Americans to be decorated with the Order of the Rising Sun by the emperor of Japan.
Browning retired from active duty in 1992. He spent more than six years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. “I had an experience that I wouldn’t recommend in Vietnam. But I was one of the lucky ones.” Browning told the crowd.
Another speaker, Navy Capt. Steven Kornatz, director of the Naval Command College, said that Browning’s remarks were fantastic, and that from his position on the stage the speech was “very emotional for a lot of people.”
Louise Bridges attended the event with her husband, Greg, who is a Vietnam War veteran. Louise Bridges said she was impressed with Browning’s speech. “It makes you reflect on all that he and the country has gone through for our sake.”
Taylor Smith, who has lived in Scottsdale for 32 years, said that his father was wounded while driving a Red Cross vehicle during World War II. Smith said that he always takes time to observe Veterans Day.
“We are all so busy making money and making a living, but we need to remember to make it a special day,” Smith said.
“The flag they bore is in our hands as well,” Browning told the crowd near the end of his speech. “The standards that veterans have carried all over the world and still do today are in your hands and mine as well as theirs.”