U.S. Air Force veteran Alberto Romero said it's important to recognize all of the people who served in the military on Veterans Day.

"On Veterans Day, we focus on the combat veterans," he told a crowd inside Marvin Methodist Church Wednesday afternoon. "They are the ones who get the recognition for taking the fight to the enemy, but I want to reflect on the veterans who stay stateside - those that keep the mission going. They don't get the credit they deserve."

Romero, KYTX CBS19's newest meteorologist, gave the keynote address at Tyler's annual citywide Veterans Day Celebration. The celebration is two fold, with a Veterans Day church service including hymns, scripture and prayer, followed by a second program filled with patriotic tunes and remembrance for those left behind.

This year's event was at Marvin Methodist Church, 300 W. Erwin St. The patriotic portion of the program is typically on the T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza but was moved inside the church because of rain.

Romero, who served as a special operations weather specialist in the Air Force from 2004 to 2012, also called for the crowd to be supportive of military families and veterans in the community. He said 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

"Be a neighbor and friend to your veterans," he said. "Ask how they are doing today. That one question could save a life."

Mayor Martin Heines spoke about his father's service in the Korean War and of one of his ancestors who fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in a pivotal moment in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War.

"These two stories are my stories, but they are not unlike (yours) …" he said, brimming with emotion. "There is no greater calling. There is not greater achievement, and no greater service than those who served in the U.S. military."

The Grace Ashira! Concert Choir provided musical entertainment for the event, singing the Star Spangled Banner and a patriotic melody that included the songs for each military branch. Veterans stood during their song, while the crowd cheered and clapped.

The morning's church services included experts from Psalms, a large portion of which were written by David - a soldier and king.

The Rev. David Luchenbach, rector of Christ Episcopal Church, spoke of Psalms 46, and of leaning on God to get through trauma experienced in war.

"David was encouraged by the presence and support of his country, but the foundation of his security was the presence of God because, he knew even if his life was taken, he would (be) with God," Luchenbach said.

The Rev. Chris Pulliam, senior pastor at First Christian Church, spoke on Psalms 23. The scripture is often used to comfort grieving families, but Pulliam said they an also be of comfort to those in conflict.

"In many parts of the world, today's soldiers of all kinds of walking through scary and dangerous places and they do so all in an effort to bring stability to places and people who only know chaos and struggle," Pulliam said. "I can only imagine what these men and women wake up to each day, and … their strength is in knowing that they walk through the valley of the shadow of death that thou art with me - that God is with them."

The Rev. Gerry Giles, executive pastor of Marvin United Methodist Church, spoke of Psalm 91 and God's ability to quiet fear.

"How do any of us cope with fear, terror, guilt and remorse?" he said. "These demons can be a greater threat than any physical enemy we might encounter on the battlefield. Regardless of our enemy and whatever exists that strikes fear into our hearts, God always offers us hope."


Digital Content Manager

Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.

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