Madison celebrates Veterans Day

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Several events in Madison on Sunday celebrated Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

On Sunday morning, the Madison Veterans Council held their annual Veterans Day ceremony at the State Capitol. The program specifically recognized veterans form World War II onward, but it did give a nod to the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.

The event also featured patriotic music from a volunteer band, several singers and speeches from various guests, including Senator Tammy Baldwin.

"This Veterans Day, we join together as one community, to honor and remember those who selflessly served the American values that we share," Baldwin said. "They have done more for our country than anyone could ever expect. So on this Veterans Day, let us draw strength from their courageous service."

Other special guests at the ceremony included Badger Honor Flight Veterans and Gold Star Parents. The ceremony observed a moment of silence in honor of all veterans.

Meanwhile, at the Madison Public Library, people had the chance to listen and learn about Wisconsin's veterans with a Real Life Library event.

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum teamed up with the organization We Help One Another (WHOA) to host the event.

Here's how the Real Life Library worked: Veterans acted as "books," sharing their personal stories with others. The event was free, so anyone could come listen to the dozens of stories.

"We think honoring [veterans] by giving them space to talk about how their experiences impacted their lives help us develop more empathy for what it means to be a veteran and to really honor their service," Garrett Lee, WHOA founder, said.

One woman who attended the event said she came because her mom was one of the veterans sharing her story, but she learned so much from listening to others.

"They're personal accounts, they're not edited, they weren't put through some sort of process, it's just their raw stories," said Madeleine Wasek. "Where else would you get that experience, that opportunity to do so?"

After listening to stories, people had the chance to reflect and talk about how they were impacted. Lee said he hopes this event helps people build empathy and community.

"We really think that storytelling and listening, communication, is at the root of building community, and we do that through listening and building empathy and building relationships, and so, we hope that’s the ultimate impact," he said.