A retired Army lieutenant colonel saluted generations of American servicemen and women and reminded civilians that those patriots made America exceptional during Veterans Day services Thursday at the Regional Veterans Park on the campus of Lane Regional Medical Center.

Retired Lt. Col. Darrin Spears, a JROTC instructor based at Zachary High School, drove home the sentiment that a great nation owes a debt of gratitude to its military.

“The generations of patriots who dedicated themselves to the defense of the United States of America, at times of great peril, our veterans have kept the faith,” he said. “They have kept us free and enabled Americans to keep faith with the rest of the world. That's why I'm so pleased to be with you today to honor their faithful service and to renew, reaffirm and to rededicate our commitment to keeping the faith with them.”

Mark Marionneaux, president-CEO of the Bank of Zachary, welcomed honored guests and members of the community to the program hosted by the organization. The Regional Veterans Park Board of Directors, the Zachary High School band and choir, and the JROTC Color Guard participated in the ceremonies.

The bank has spent more than a decade honoring all the veterans by hosting the Veterans Day Flag Raising ceremonies that were held at the Main Street location before Lane Regional Medical Center donated land for the Regional Veterans Park to be placed on its campus.

The park and the wall of bricks dedicated to area soldiers was the backdrop for Spears as he touted the military’s ability to meet the global security challenges that threaten national security.

“No right-thinking person wants war but we believe a ready and resilient American military is the best chance for peace,” Spears said. “After all, it was our first Commanding General George Washington who said, to be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. We are therefore committed to building and maintaining an agile, adaptive military that can deter and defeat any aggressors.”

Spears made special note that the veterans who leave the service re-enter American society as some of the most talented, dedicated, capable and entrepreneurial professionals in the world. “When they leave our ranks, they take with them the knowledge gained from earning academic degrees, certifications, and mastering technical skills right now all around the country that are served as teachers, doctors, engineers, social workers, community leaders, first responders, elected officials, and of course, Army JROTC instructors,” he quipped. “They continue to serve this country, this community by making positive impacts, building stronger futures and inspiring future generations to come. That's as it should be, and we have a duty to support them.”