A chilly, gray and drizzly morning did not stop a Veterans Day observance Friday at the Central Texas Veterans’ Memorial, where a small but enthusiastic group celebrated with song, patriotism and humor.
    The American Legion Post 196 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3278 hosted the observance, which began with the posting of the colors and a gun salute.
    A fifth-grade choir from Early Elementary School sang several patriotic songs including a medley of the hymns and songs of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Cost Guard. Veterans rose from their chairs in apparent delight as the choir sang their service’s song.
    Retired Navy chaplain Jim Looby delivered a strong paen to the legacy of military service, beginning with a description of basic training after enlisting in the Air Force. Looby left the Air Force and later became a Navy champlain, retiring in 2005 with the rank of commander.
    In those difficult and demanding days of basic training, Looby said, airmen transitioned from a “civilian mode to a military mode” and learned responsibility, accountability and honor, about completing a mission and fulfilling orders.
    “It’s a team action, and team action is always greater and more powerful than individual action,” Looby said.
    Lobby noted the “rivalry and banter” between the branches of the military. “We’ve got the annual Navy beats Army game (on Dec. 9),” Looby said, prompting an injured response from James Masters, commander of the VFW post.
    “Excuse me, Commander, we won last,” Masters called out loudly.
    “This is what I mean by the good-natured give and take …” Looby said.
    “Still our year,” Masters again interrupted.
    “ … Among our military members,” Looby continued. “I do have the podium, Arm-EE.”
    After Masters settled down, Looby explained, “We joke, we poke fun at one another, and all of it is in good faith. All of it is done because even though we wear different uniforms, we are all uniform under the red, white and blue.”
    Looby recited several words “that mean a lot to military members,” beginning with the word “honor.”
    “We honor God, we honor our parents, we honor our spouse,” Looby said. “We honor our country, we honor our flag.”
    Looby next talked about the word “courage.”
    “Courage is that mental and moral strength to venture forth, to stand up against that which is dangerous or that which we fear,” Looby said. “It means to have a firmness of resolve, to take the battle to the enemy, to win the day, regardless of the difficulty, regardless of the cost to ourselves, regardless of the size of the opposition, willing to fight because we’re unwilling to accept defeat.”
    Lobby went on to talk about integrity, service and excellence.
    The most significant quality learned in boot camp or basic training, Looby said, is country. “Country is a state of mind,” Looby said. “Country is a whole lot more than just a vast expanse of land. It is a firmness of our hearts. It is who we are. It is what we are.
    “We are not a hyphenated people. We are the United States of America. We are Americans, period.”
    Looby reiterated the values learned in basic training or boot camp: “honor, courage, commitment, integrity, service, excellence, country — all of it in the name of duty.”