ALPENA - On Sunday, local veterans will gather at Little Flanders Field to honor those who served.
For this year's Veterans Day, the Veterans of Foreign Wars will recognize one of their own, as well as a local business owner, for his work to support all who fought for America, Veterans Council Chairman Bill Kuzenski said.
The ceremony begins at 11 a.m., Kuzenski said. Col. Brian Teff, Combat Readiness Training Center commander, is set to speak at the ceremony. Veterans organizations will lay wreaths, play Taps and VFW Post 2496 members will fire a 21-gun salute.
Retired Col. Ewin "Sam" Sansom is the 2012 Veteran of the Year. He was nominated because of his selflessness and dedication to the cause of helping local veterans, Kuzenski said.
While Sansom can't be there, Alpena County Veterans Affairs Director Dan Cox will accept the award on his behalf, VFW District 13 Commander Larry Marchlewski Sr., said.
The VFW will also recognize Chad Esch of Bannan Funeral Home, the first recipient of the Advocate Award, Marchlewski said. He suggested creating the award as thanks to the many organizations and businesses who support veterans.
What: Veterans Day ceremony
Where: Little Flanders Field, on Washington Ave. near Evergreen Cemetery.
When: 11 a.m. Sunday
"Bannan got it because we made our point to the committee that Chad is always doing something for veterans and their families," he said.
Along with his involvement with funerals, Esch's business donates $500 to the honor guard each year at Christmas to buy new uniforms, Marchlewski said. He also donated the Taps bugle, among other contributions.
Members of the VFW and other veterans organizations also nominated the Alpena Applebee's and Lasting Expressions, Marchlewski said. Both businesses could be nominated again for next year's award.
"We just figured we should honor them," he said. "We honor the Veteran of the Year; that'd be a good time to honor an advocate."
Kuzenski is the son of a World War II veteran, and his great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, he said. While he's chairing the council this year, he pointed out that numerous local organizations work to put the ceremony together.
"Everybody helps and that's the way it should be," he said. "It's all for the veterans."
The ceremony will go on regardless of the weather, and Kuzenski reminded everyone planning to attend to dress accordingly.
"Please show up and show your support to our veterans," he said. "They've earned it."
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.