Shenandoah’s annual Sept. 11 service will be held at noon at the Old Armory building.

There will be two speakers and music provided by the Shenandoah High School band.

One speaker is Page County Veterans Affair Executive Director Janet Olsen. Starting the position in early 2018, she has 14 years of experience in the Air Force. She has also been involved in the Nemaha County, Nebraska, Veterans Service Board.

“We lost our innocence,” Olsen said about her speech. “Since then, it’s been hard to realize who we are as Americans.”

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 19 hijacked four airplanes after takeoff from American airports and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into what was known as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both buildings eventually collapsed.

A third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

About 3,000 people were killed during the day. Since then, the United States has combated terrorism.

The other speaker for the noon service is Ernie Robinson, VFW Post 7224 senior vice commander.

A reception at the Page County Veterans Affairs office at 615 NW Road will follow the service.

At 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the American Legion Country Club in Shenandoah, American Legion District 7 Commander Brett Martin will speak.

“I will mention a few things. One is the great Legion post you have in Shenandoah and the interaction between the post and the community. It’s a special bond,” he said.

And that bond can get better.

President Trump signed a bill July 30 to honor approximately 1,600 U.S. service members who were killed or wounded during previously undeclared periods of war.

The LEGION Act (Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service Act) is for about 6 million veterans to access American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible.

“Recognizing the service of these wartime veterans is the right thing do and it is long overdue,” National Commander Brett Reistad said in a statement after the signing.

“The families of those who were killed or wounded during these wartime acts should take pride in knowing that we recognize their sacrifice and service. Moreover, we are proud to welcome any of the six million living veterans from the previously unrecognized periods into our organization and call them ‘Legionnaires.’”

The American Legion’s eligibility criteria changes from seven war eras to two: April 6, 1917, to Nov. 11, 1918, and Dec. 7, 1941 to a time later determined by the federal government. No other restrictions to American Legion membership are changed.

The law began on Feb. 14 when Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., introduced S. 504, along with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. A companion measure, H.R. 1641, was introduced in the House by Reps. Lou Correa, D-Calif., and Ben Cline, R-Va.

“It was not that the Legion didn’t want them, it was Congress. Now that obstacle has been lifted, it’s a real opportunity to bring a whole slew of new folks into the Legion. It helps the Legion, it helps the community. The more people you get it, the more you can get in auxiliary and others. It’s a good deal all around.”

Martin has 31 years of service in the Navy. His time includes two deployments to the Persian Gulf; service at Offutt Air Force Base; and deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired in December 2017 and was named Seventh District Commander in July.

With Sept. 11 reaching its 18th anniversary, Martin said the feelings the day brings have not lessened over time.

“I don’t think you can’t feel the same emotion. The guys who witnessed Pearl Harbor, there was a natural calling do to something. When 9-11 happened, it was something that hadn’t happened since the 1940s. Every one was called to arms. That means a lot of different things to different people. That is where Americanism comes in. We can disagree on politics or religion, but we can stand shoulder to shoulder when a foe is in front of us.”

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