After a parade went through Poyntz Avenue in downtown Manhattan to honor Veterans Day, citizens gathered inside the Peace Memorial Auditorium at City Hall to continue the celebration.
Second graders from Lee and Theodore Roosevelt Elementary Schools sang songs commemorating service men and women and remarks were heard from Manhattan Mayor Karen McCulloh, Riley County Commission Chairman Ron Wells and an especially moving speech was given from Maj. Gen. Wayne W. Grigsby, the Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley.
“That our community comes to honor our nation’s service members like this is just breathtaking,” Grigsby said. “That each of you took the time to recognize the things that our young men and women do everyday in the service of freedom means so much to all of us.”
Grigsby also spoke on the myths of effective military combat and policy.
Grigsby said technology alone is not the only key to successful military action and that there’s little substitute for boots on the ground.
“This is a particularly seductive myth,” he said. “If we can fight from far away, perhaps we can fight wars where there is no chance that we will lose one of our own. This is a fallacy.
“War is a political act — an act to impose our political will on an opponent through use of organized violence. Politics are about people — people who are connected to the ground on which they fight. Our enemies will to fight has all been broken on the ground, thus we need soldiers on the ground.”
He also said there’s no such think as a “quick” beginning, middle and end to war and conflict, saying political, social and cultural differences always have and always will make such campaigns a long and costly process.
“That is simply not the nature of war,” he said. “Wars are complex and while battles may be won in short order, it takes years to address the underlying political, social and cultural issues that lead to conflict in the first place.”
Most of all, though, he is happy to serve at Fort Riley.
“I’ve been in the Army 31 years, and this is the best place to train,” he said. “It is a jewel.
“We have the best damn community support that I’ve seen in 31 years of service, and that’s a round of applause to you.”
Audio from McCulloh, Wells and Grigsby can be heard below.