Louanna Campbell, a full-time University of Texas at Tyler student, had a transition to college life that was quite a bit different from most freshmen. After serving 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, Ms. Campbell retired as a Senior Master Sergeant and moved to Tyler to pursue an education in mass communications.
Originally from Power Lakes, North Dakota, Ms. Campbell said she likes East Texas, although it has been a huge learning experience making the switch to civilian life.
"It was challenging to become a civilian," Ms. Campbell said. "It's much different being around all the different views, and you have to have more of an open mind."
Ms. Campbell said Veterans Day has always been a good time for her to reflect on her military career, but this year, it will be especially helpful as she continues to adjust to her new life.
"Veterans Day is a day to get back in touch with brothers and sisters I served with," Ms. Campbell said. "I feel appreciated on Veterans Day, and I use the day to reflect and remember."
Like Ms. Campbell, James Allen, an employee for Brookshire's, said Veterans Day is a time to reflect and remember those who fought for our country. Allen retired in 2005 as a sergeant and section leader of an infantry unit in the Marine Corps. Allen agreed that making the adjustment to living a civilian lifestyle after four years in the Marines was difficult.
For him, Veterans Day is a time to reflect on his memories of military life but also honor those who have lost their lives during their time in the military.
"Veterans Day means a lot to me, and I think about my time in it, but I also think of those who have died as well," he said.
Ms. Campbell and Allen are among an estimated 18,000 veterans living in Smith County, according to information provided by the city of Tyler's communications. These veterans will be honored this week with a variety of events - from school assembles and parades to a luncheon.
Some of these events include:
City of Tyler Veterans Day Celebration
The city of Tyler, the Mayor's Veteran and Community Roundtable and Marvin United Methodist Church will team up Wednesday to honor veterans at a celebration at 11 a.m. in downtown Tyler.
The festivities will kick off with a prayer service at Marvin United Methodist Church, 300 W. Erwin St., followed by a freedom walk to the T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza, where a traditional military ceremony will commence at noon. Golf cart shuttles will be available for those unable to walk to the plaza.
Veterans Day is a parking meter holiday, so all parking - at the meters and in the Fair Plaza Garage - is free on Wednesday.
Veterans Day Parade & Cookout
Watkins-Logan Texas State Veterans Home, 11466 Honor Lane in Tyler, will host a Veterans Day Parade at 11 a.m. at the retirement home. The parade will feature 25 organizations, including local school bands. The parade will travel through the neighborhood surrounding the home, followed by a cookout sponsored by Brookshire Grocery Co. The cookout is open to the public.
Christian Heritage School Veterans Day Celebration
Christian Heritage School, 961 County Road 1143 in Tyler, will host a Veterans Day Celebration at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Veterans Day Program
Kilgore College will also host a Veterans Day program at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Devall Student Center Ballroom on campus, 1100 Broadway Blvd.
Vietnam Veterans Honored at UT Tyler
The Daughters of the American Revolution will honor Vietnam Veterans in a celebration from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at The University of Texas at Tyler. The event is planned to recognize veterans on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Certificates will be presented by representatives of the local DAR Chapter on the third floor of the Robert R. Muntz Library.
Texas Roadhouse offers free lunch
Texas Roadhouse will host its fifth annual Texas-sized thank you for serving event. From 11 am. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, all veterans, including all active, retired or former U.S. military, can choose one of 10 free entrees. Proof of service includes military or VA card, or discharge papers.
IHOP to serve free pancakes
Participating IHOP restaurants throughout the United States will serve buttermilk pancakes crowned with glazed strawberries, blueberry compote and whipped topping - free for veterans and active duty military from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
EJ Moss Intermediate School Assembly
EJ Moss Intermediate School will host a Veterans Day assembly at 9 a.m. Friday at the Lindale ISD Performing Arts Center, 920 E. Hubbard Street in Lindale.