KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) – Although we celebrate our veterans year round, Monday is a special day to remember and reflect on what they did for our country. The Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home found a new way to do just that.

The Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home unveiled a brand new sculpture in honor of Veterans Day. It’s called “Reflections of Service,” sculpted by artist Douwe Blumberg. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

The CNVH started their Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday. The Offutt Air Force Brass Band played some tunes as people waited for the ceremony to start.

Members, local veterans and their families watched on as the Kearney American Legion Post 52 presented the colors.

A Vietnam vet said he waited decades for celebrations like this one.

“Us Vietnam veterans, we weren’t really welcomed home. There were no parades for us,” said Jose Trejo, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

“What this means to me is that somebody remembers us. We’re not forgotten. We’re not just little toy soldiers who get put up on the shelf. When they have events like this it’s nice to be remembered,” Trejo said.

After some speeches, the Home unveiled a brand new sculpture just outside near the fountain. It’s called “Reflections of Service,” sculpted by artist Douwe Blumberg.

It depicts an older veteran looking at a reflection of a young soldier, extending his arm out to him as if to help him up.

“It’ll be a nice centerpiece for those people to come out and those visiting members, the community to reflect on the service that our veterans gave,” said Alex Willford, administrator at the CNVH. “Today, they’re old men and old women. But at one point, they were young service members who were ready to give it all.”

Blumberg said he created the statue with older veterans in mind. He said it’s meant to explore the power of time and healing, and how we view the past.

Blumberg has a long family history of war service, although he himself didn’t serve. His father served on a carrier in the Pacific during WWII. His daughter currently serves in the Air Force. Blumberg said his mother’s father was killed by Germans in WWII after they discovered he was hiding Jewish people in his home. All his uncles also served during WWII.

“Being able to be a small part of this country honoring its vets, past, present and future, is probably the highlight of my career,” Blumberg said.

The Air Force Band concluded the ceremony with the Armed Forces Medley. Veterans saluted as taps rang out across the hall.

Members of the CNVH selected the statue themselves, which was created as part of Nebraska’s 1 percent for Art program.

For Trejo, the statue brings back memories from his service overseas, something he can reflect on while looking at the sculpture.

“It’s got a lot of significance. It reminds me of being far away from home, and thinking of home and thinking of the day that we’d come back home,” Trejo said.

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