By Ernie Over

Veterans Day is this Friday, Nov. 11. There’s a free community breakfast for veterans and the public from 7 to 11 at the Fremont Center in Riverton sponsored by the community and then a big Friday Night Cruise through downtown to celebrate the veterans. Folks are being urged to decorate their vehicles in the good old Red, White and Blue and honor their veteran family members and others.

Veterans Hall in Riverton also is responsible for the Avenue of Flags down Main, Federal and the side streets downtown. About 160 flags are put up on Thursday afternoon and will stay up through Sunday. Lander has a similar Avenue of Flags display there. Veterans Hall in Riverton earlier was seeking three pickup trucks and two volunteers for each truck to help get the flags up. Interested? Call Veterans Hall at 307-463-0963 or stop in at 417 East Main.

In Lander, Veterans Day is greeted with cannon fire all around town in the wee morning hours by members of the Don Stough American Legion Post 33 and the VFW Post 954 and Auxiliary.

As you recall, the Friday Night Cruises started during the COVID pandemic when people were holed up at home and missing seeing their friends. The cruise gave folks the opportunity to stay safe in their own vehicles and cruise through town, waving at their friends and others, honking their vehicle horns, and playing music that wafted through the downtown area. It was festive.

This Friday night will be festive, as well, but for a more patriotic reason. Honoring those who have served and gave their all, those who have served and came home, those who are presently serving and all those who support them.

This is the second holiday of the year when we remember our military veterans. Memorial Day is to honor those who served and died for our freedoms, and this Friday is to acknowledge all members of the military services, and this year including the new Space Force.

One of the highlights of the University of Wyoming football games is on Military Day when the Western Thunder Marching Band goes in formation to honor the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the Marines while playing their theme music. That’s after the huge American Flag is spread out on the football field.

Some of the most colorful Friday Night Cruise vehicles are those from the Reservation. Native families go all out in decorating with blankets, flags, bunting, photos and more of their veterans. You see this annually at the Lander Pioneer Days Parade on the Fourth of July and the Fremont County Fair Parade in Riverton.

Fremont County now has some impressive permanent Veteran Memorials, in Lander, Fort Washakie and Riverton. The memorial in Lander is on the lawn in front of the county courthouse that features a statue of Dubois solider Chance Phelps who killed in action in 2005 in the Middle East; Fort Washakie’s is at Hines Corner with the new Path of Honor Memorial memorializing the Frontier Wars through the latest U.S. conflicts in the Middle East. If you have not seen this memorial yet, it’s worth the drive and a walk through the red road featured in the memorial. Riverton’s memorial is located between the Rails to Trail’s Pathway and the west side of City Hall. It’s awesome with granite memorials, bricks honoring local veterans, displays from the local veteran service organizations and a Battlefield Cross Monument remembering Command Sgt. Major Kevin Griffin of Riverton who was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq. There’s also a covered picnic arbor there free for the use for donations with grills, tables, chairs and everything but the food.

Break out and display Old Glory this Veterans Day weekend and be thankful there are those who sacrifice and serve for our benefit.

Ernie Over is an employee owner and the news director of the five-station WyoTodayMedia Radio Network in Fremont and Hot Springs counties, the editor of the award winning Internet news site, and a staff member of The Ranger, Lander Journal and Wind River News