Amid the bustle of construction and traffic that surrounds the Towson roundabout, dozens of Baltimore County veterans, politicians and citizens gathered around the Wayside Cross — which has been a fixture in downtown Towson for nearly a century — to pay tribute to America's military veterans on Friday morning, at Nov. 11.
"It feels fantastic just to be recognized for the work we did," said Jim Rebbert, commander of the Towson American Legion Post 22. "I spent four years serving our country, and it's great to be appreciated for it."
Rebbert, who served domestically in the Air Force from 1966 to 1970, led a ceremony Friday morning — at 11 a.m. on 11/11/11 — that emphasized the importance of respecting our veterans.
The event featured several ceremonial gestures in support of veterans. Members of the Towson Elks Club and the American Legion hung wreathes on the Wayside Cross, and a member of the Towson University women's rugby team released red, white and blue balloons.
The event also featured remarks from County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, 5th District Councilman David Marks and state delegates Susan Aumann and Stephen Lafferty, while letters were read from U.S. senators Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski.
"We owe it to these great men and women to keep them alive in our hearts," Kamenetz said. "They have earned this day and so much more."
In his remarks, Rebbert spoke poignantly about the real national debt America faces, which is anything but financial.
"The biggest national debt of all is the one America owes to our veterans," he said.
Moments later, much of the gathered crowd, along with Towson's own John F. Nicoll Pipe Band, walked down the street for a similar service held by the Elks Club at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the County Courthouse.
For more photos from the Wayside Cross ceremony, as well as Veterans Day commemorations across Baltimore County, see the related photo gallery.