Speakers remind public that 'freedom isn't free'SEASIDE - Heightened efforts to combat terrorism distinguish the observances of Veterans Day this year, a U.S. Army brigadier general told a Seaside crowd at bridge dedication ceremonies Monday.

"Because of the ongoing worldwide war on terrorism, this Veterans Day is different than the rest," said Brig. Gen. Terry Barker, assistant adjutant general for the Oregon National Guard.

But regardless of the situation internationally, "when this nation pauses to salute those who have served or continue to serve ... even this one day means a great deal to those who have worn a uniform," he said.

Barker's comments were part of services dedicating the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

LORI ASSA - The Daily Astorian

Moments after the ceremonial ribbon cutting, veterans U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Terry Barker, Jim Starr, U.S. Navy, and Bill Thomas, U.S. Navy, watch and wave with the rest of the gathering as a U.S. Coast Guard HH-60J helicopter flies by.The Veterans Day ceremonies at the American Legion Post 99 in Seaside included the playing of "Taps" on trumpet and a flag presentation with three shots fired in salute by personnel from Rilea Armed Forces Training Center in Warrenton. The more than 100 people attending the dedication ceremonies, including many veterans, applauded a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter when it flew low over the bridge and returned to complete a slow circle.

Seaside Mayor Rosemary Baker-Monaghan invited Barker and local veterans, including Bill Thomas, who was a seaman first-class on the USS Medusa during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Jim Starr, a retired U.S. Navy master chief, to cut a ribbon hanging across the bridge.

The new bridge across Neawanna Creek, which opened in May after five months of work at a cost of $544,000, was designed to better withstand earthquakes and other hazards. Similarly, the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in Seaside, replacing the First Avenue Bridge across the Necanicum River, was dedicated two years ago.

Stubby Lyons, a Seaside city councilor and a veteran of the Korean War who had helped to coordinate the event, thanked participants.

Baker-Monaghan read a proclamation recounting the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, the Armistice Day proclamation a year later by President Woodrow Wilson, and the change in name of the annual observance to Veterans Day in 1954.

The mayor added that in dedicating the bridge to veterans, Seaside city councilors wish "to honor all men and women of the United States of America who have answered the call to duty, honor and country."

Among attendees, Noel Walsh, who served in the Vietnam-era, brought his 8-year-old son, Kevin, to learn about Veterans Day.

Barker said efforts to combat terrorism in the wake of attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, will be difficult because this fight must be waged in different places and there are no quick solutions.

Although Veterans Day firstly recognizes fallen heroes and their families, it is also meant to honor veterans from all walks of life, including those who were not in war, Barker said.

Those also deserving recognition are of any military service, past or present, active or reserve, he added. Such people include those who provide training, help the families of soldiers left behind, or contribute to vital workloads of support, as well as prisoners of war and those missing in action, he said.

All who serve "commit to putting their lives on the line," Barker said.

"Let this day be a celebration of life," he added. "Let it be known this nation does not forget ... we are a grateful nation, and we remember because freedom isn't free."

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