LANSING | A large crowd at the Lansing Veterans Memorial on Sunday paid special tribute to women who have served in the military.
Keynote speaker U.S. Army Sgt. Sharon P. Allen, of Westchester, served eight years in the Army and spent 11 months in Iraq, where she drove a fuel truck in a combat zone.
"Women have contributed to every war this nation has fought, but we're only recently attaining equal combat exposure," she said.
Allen said that while women are well-accepted within the military, perhaps not all civilians have adjusted to the thought.
"I've had people ask me whose uniform I was wearing, because they don't realize that women are also in the military," she said.
Debbie Altgilbers, of Dyer, is an Army veteran and the lone female member of the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard, which has hosted the annual Veterans Day service in Lansing for 21 years.
"I think it's good to honor the women in the military because sometimes it's so overlooked because it's seen as being a men's thing, but there are so many very well-trained women in the military," Altgilbers said.
The theme of Sunday's service coincided with the designation of April 2013 through March 2014 as The Year of Military Woman.
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., told the crowd she was humbled to be invited to pay tribute to our nation's veterans.
"It's because of what they've done and what the military continues to do that we can be the country we are," she said.
Kelly said Veterans Day should be celebrated every day.
The honor guard saluted one of its own by presenting Lansing resident Pete Matrenec with its Soldier of the Cycle Award.
The award is presented annually to a member who shows outstanding participation at events. Matrenec joined the Honor Guard in 2007 and is an Air Force veteran.
The service also paid special tribute to the U.S. Marine Corps, which was founded 238 years ago on Nov. 10, 1775.
Marines raised the Marine Corps flag along with the U.S flag as colors were posted at the start of the service.