LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Around 100 people gathered at the Veterans Hall at the Tomah VA Medical Center Thursday to recognize those who have served our country. The ceremony featured music from the Tomah High School Band, presentation of the colors by the Fort McCoy Challenge Academy Color Guard, and Military Honors.

Toma VA Medical Center Director, Karen Long, says, “It’s such a wonderful opportunity to really celebrate the honor and remember the service and sacrifices of our nation’s heroes. Veteran’s Day is important because it’s really about celebrating our veterans and the services and sacrifices that they’ve made and the freedoms that they have earned for all of us.”

All veterans and the general public were invited to the ceremony. “It’s important to recognize veterans because it takes a village to support our veterans. And they deserve all these benefits that they have earned. So, it’s important for us to all come together and appreciate the service and sacrifices that they have made.

One of the guest speakers was Colonel Stephen Messenger, a Garrison Commander at Fort McCoy who served 3 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Messenger said, “It was an honor speaking at the VA with all the veterans in attendance today and just thanked them for their incredible service that’s made our nation so great over the last 248 years.”

Messenger says it is important for veterans to be recognized for their service, “Veterans have really been the backbone of our nation in terms of ensuring democracy across the world. America is the only nation that goes out and defends freedom from enemies, foreign and domestic. It is so important to honor their service because they have served past, present and will in the future to keep our nation the way it is today.”

The Tomah VA Medical Center serves about 28,000 veterans in 16 counties in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The ceremony also honored Charles Dickman, a soldier who was reported missing in Korea in 1950, he was buried in his hometown of Cashton on October 21st.