In the News

Answering the call

Great Bend Tribune | Dale Hogg

Kansas U.S. Senator Jerry Moran told the American flag-waving crowd at the Great Bend Airfest Veterans Recognition Ceremony Saturday night he has a deep appreciation for those who served this nation in the armed forces.

“I am not a veteran,” said Moran, who was born in Great Bend and grew up in Russell and Plainville. But, “I graduated from high school as the Vietnam War was ending. I saw how those who did serve were treated when they returned home.”

He took a vow then to do everything he could to set that right. Long a veterans’ advocate, he is the longest serving senator on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“I respect those who served,” he said. “I want to make sure the promises we made to them are kept.”

As he spoke, the wind whipped the many American flags on the airport tarmac. The sun crept downward to the western horizon, bathing the scene in an orange glow.

“Thank you to all of you who answered the call,” Moran said. “You have my respect.”

He said he is angered at how America withdrew from Afghanistan. Among other consequences, many who served there now feel their service was in vain, and as a result, the number of calls to the veterans’ suicide help line has doubled.

“You did what you had to do,” he said, speaking to vets from the 20-year War on Terror. “The fault is not with you. The fault is with those in suits in Washington.”

He said the sacrifices of those who went to war remind him that his job transcends the petty squabbles of the nation’s capital. Everyone should respect, thank and love veterans.

It was fitting this ceremony took place at the airport. The facility got its start during World War II as an Army Airbase where B-29 bomber crews were trained.

Hometown welcome

Before Moran gave his address, he was honored as a native son of Great Bend. He was joined on stage by Great Bend Mayor Cody Schmidt, City Administrator Kendal Francis and Community Coordinator/Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Christina Hayes.

The city officials unveiled a new sign that will be displayed prominently. It reads “Great Bend, Kansas, Proud Home of Sen. Jerry Moran.”

“Your leadership has made extreme ripples across the State of Kansas, across nation and around the world,” Hayes said.

Moran said he was proud of his heritage and connections to this community

The fest, which takes place every three years, showcases vintage warbirds, aerial acrobatics, and the community’s World War II history along with paying tribute to the nation’s military veterans.

The three-day event, which ends Sunday, includes educational tours, aircraft displays, historical displays, warbird and helicopter rides and airshows.