Missoula Veterans Day ceremony honors service, brings up needs

(KPAX) On snowy and cold Thursday morning, many gathered to celebrate Veterans Day in front of the Missoula County Courthouse.

A medium-sized crowd, which included Gov. Greg Gianforte, withstood the winter weather to honor those who have served.

Veterans here contributed a chapter of their lives like Jon Wilkins, who enlisted in the Army in 1966 at the age of 17 and got out in 1976.

Veterans Day serves not only as an annual remembrance of service, but also to address needs in the community.

While healthcare was brought up by several speakers, Wilkins pointed out his priority — helping the homeless veteran population.

“A lot of people can just walk on by. We need to stop and look. I just want to stress that when you see our hobos of the day, our homeless, that we need to do something about that, more than what we’re doing,” said Wilkins.

The event brought together veterans from different military branches through different periods of history, along with their families and supportive community members.

“People have made such tremendous sacrifices in our nation, and these are monumental events in our history. Veterans Day commemorates the men and women in uniform that literally have given us our freedom,” ceremony coordinator Susan Reneau told MTN News.

The ceremony had several speakers including representatives for Montana’s Congress members, a WWII veteran, and the governor.

“So, on behalf of the State of Montana, let me be very clear. Thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for making this nation a safer place where we still celebrate and enjoy freedom,” Gianforte said.