Local veterans and students from the Webster City Middle School and St. Thomas School gathered around the Boulevard of Valor on Des Moines Street Thursday morning for an early Veterans Day observance.
Members of American Legion Post 191 led the observance. Legion Commander Doug Johnson introduced the morning's speaker, the Rev. Mike Willer, the pastor at Faith United Methodist Church. Willer is also an Iowa Army National Guard chaplain who served a year in Afghanistan.
Willer explained to the audience the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances.
The Rev. Mike Willer, an Iowa Army National Guard chaplain, was the guest speaker Thursday at a Veterans Day observance held on the Boulevard of Valor.
"After an extended time of warfare, the Allied Nations met in Germany to sign a treaty ending World War I," he told the students. "That meeting took place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918."
He went on to explain that Nov. 11 became known as Armistice Day and was later was officially changed to Veterans Day "to remember, celebrate and to lift up all veterans of all wars."
Willer also explained that Memorial Day was established to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the country in military service.
"Memorial Day is the day to remember those who died while serving their country and Veterans Day is instead a day when the citizens of our country can acknowledge and say thank you to those men and women who have served and who currently serve our country and still walk amongst us," he said.
Willer challenged the students and others present to enter into a dialogue with a veteran.
"Instead of learning about history through a history book or over the Internet or on the History Channel, by engaging a veteran, you can learn about history first-hand. Veterans have been there, living history, making history," he said.
Willer said veterans can bring the story to life, by telling of their experiences and what they went through in their military service.
"Each of us veterans, who have served throughout the world, can remember in vivid detail the places we were, what it looked like, smelled like and what it felt like to be there," he said. Willer added that a veteran can fill in the details that can't be found in a picture or map.
Eighth grade students had a chance to do just that Thursday. Members of the American Legion visited classes and shared stories of their military service with the students. The eighth graders also traveled to the Depot Museum to view the military display there.