All across the state Friday, Kentuckians will stop their routines to observe Veterans Day, thanking those who have served the nation in peace and war.
Area events marking National Veterans Awareness Week, which runs through Tuesday, got under way Wednesday at Richmond's Armed Forces Reserve Center with a reading of the names of the 106 Kentucky service members who have died during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gold Star families, those who have lost loved ones in service, were on hand for the ceremony.
On Friday and into next week, Kentuckians will be honoring veterans such as Albert Martin, 87, of Lexington, who drove a truck while serving with the Army in Europe during World War II. He was part of the famed Red Ball Express, the truck convoy system that kept Allied troops supplied as they fought their way from France into Germany in 1944-45.
"Soldiers, food, gas, ammo ... You name it, we hauled it," Martin said. "Patton told us, 'Don't let anything stop you.'"
That was Lt. Gen. George Patton, the tank commander whose fast-moving Third Army relied on the Red Ball's timely deliveries.
Driving for the Red Ball meant long hours pounding over rough roads in summer heat and winter cold. Martin was in truck convoys that were shot up by German planes. He slept on the ground, or in sheds or garages that had survived the shelling. He awoke one morning in Belgium to find himself partially covered with snow.
"I saw some people go out and not come back, so I can't complain," Martin said.
He said he had no definite plans for Veterans Day but he might take in a veterans' dinner or some other event.
Lexington services affected Friday by the Veterans Day holiday:
Government: All state and federal offices closed. City offices are open.
Courts: All courts closed.
U.S. Postal Service: No regular mail delivery, pickup or retail services
Health department: Open
Lextran: Operating on normal schedule
City garbage: Regular schedule
Reach Jim Warren at (859) 231-3255 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3255.