As some Southeast Texans prepare to enjoy a three-day weekend with Veterans Day coming up on Monday, it is important to remember what we are celebrating Nov. 11. It is a time to honor our armed forces veterans and recognize their sacrifice and service, which allows us to enjoy our many freedoms provided under the United States Constitution.
How many veterans are there in Texas? According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are a total of nearly 1.7 million, and of that 1.7 million, 1.2 million are wartime vets.
Christine Trahan, president of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Texas, said Southeast Texans should take the time Nov. 11 to show their appreciation for their local veterans.
“We are their friends, their family, their co-workers and their neighbors,” Trahan said. “It is up to us to ensure that every veteran feels that his or her service to this country is appreciated by their fellow Americans. There are many tangible ways that we can acknowledge their sacrifice, but the easiest is to simply say, ‘Thank you for what you have done for our country.’”
If you are looking to extend more to local vets than a thank you alone, or you’re just looking for a place where vets can be shown appreciation, there will be many events and ceremonies recognizing area veterans in Southeast Texas on Monday, Nov. 11, including the following:
• The city of Port Arthur in conjunction with the city of Groves and the city of Port Neches is hosting a Veterans Day Commemorative Program in honor of all veterans at 11 a.m. at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center, 3401 Cultural Center Drive in Port Arthur. The keynote speaker for the event will be Captain George Paitl, Commanding Officer, U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit, a senior officer who has held high level command assignments nationally and internationally. His current command includes the Golden Triangle area. The program will feature musical tributes, proclamations, and recognitions in honor of veterans, active service personnel, and first responders. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will follow the event.
• The Ben J. Rogers Regional Visitors Center, 5055 Interstate 10 S in Beaumont, will host the fifth annual Veterans Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. Sponsors of the event will be the Vietnam Veterans Chapter No. 292, whose fundraising efforts provided the All Veterans Memorial erected on the grounds of the Visitors Center, which honors veterans of all eras. Msgr. Michael Jamail will give the invocation and benediction, and a live trumpeter will play assembly and taps. The Nederland High School Choir will sing our national anthem and “God Bless America,” and the guest speaker will be Al Caldwell of Clear Channel Media. H-E-B Plus is providing refreshments for the reception after the program. VVA Chapter No. 292 will also hold a raffle drawing for two rifles and a spray washer. Tickets may be purchased the morning of the event or from chapter members. The Visitors Center will open at 9 a.m. and everyone in the community is welcome to attend this special event.
• There will be a special Veterans Day ceremony from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lamar University, 4400 S. MLK Jr. Parkway in Beaumont, in “The Quad” near the Mirabeau Lamar statue on campus. There will be guest veteran speakers, and games and refreshments will follow the ceremony.
• Calder Woods, 7080 Calder Ave. in Beaumont, will hold a Veterans Day ceremony at 10:30 a.m. that will include a “Military Salute” featuring the Southeast Texas Veterans Service Group. It will include a 21-gun salute, a flag ceremony, patriotic music featuring bagpiper Joss Fisher, and end with a special luncheon for all our veterans and their guests.
• The Temple To The Brave, at Pipkin Patriots Park, 1350 Pennsylvania St. in Beaumont, will be open from 2 to 5 p.m. The museum holds artifacts — including helmets, guns, swords, shells, uniforms, ribbons and medals from many wars including World War II and was built in 1932 by the Col. George Moffett Chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution. The museum was erected in honor of all Texas service members. It has been renovated three times, the latest in 2006, when the stone was repointed, walls re-plastered, pictures-rematted and framed, floor stabilized, air conditioning and heat installed among other improvements.
• Boy Scout Troop No. 86 will be holding a flag retirement ceremony at 6 p.m. at the Scout Hut, 6235 Washington, in Groves. According to the U.S. Code, “The Flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” It is also a chance for veterans to remember their service and citizens to honor veterans, said Brian Hill, scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop No. 86. Last year, the troop retired around 350 flags, Hill said.
• LifeShare is having a blood drive from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 4305 Laurel St. in Beaumont. Every donor will receive a patriotic-themed, “Honor. Duty. Privilege. Proud American Blood Donor” T-shirt. The drive is hosted by the American Legion Auxiliary Beaumont Unit No. 33. The American Legion will be collecting new blankets for homeless veterans as well. You must present photo ID at the time of donation. For questions about blood donation, go to www.lifeshare.org  or call (409) 838-5289. In addition, American Legion Auxiliary Beaumont Unit No. 33 will place 1,800 flags on the graves of veterans at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Beaumont and deliver homemade cookies to the Beaumont VA Outpatient Clinic, 3420 Plaza Circle, on Friday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 a.m.
— Kevin King