As the number of aging military veterans and their family members decreases daily, so do their memories and the opportunities of today’s children and young adults to gain a better understanding of the price of “liberties and freedoms” too often now taken for granted.
That’s why U.S. Army Reserves Brig. Gen. LeAnne Pittman Burch of Monticello issued a challenge Monday to members of the World War II-era “greatest generation” and Korean Conflict and Vietnam War survivors at Trinity Village here.
“Tell your story,” Burch, a DeWitt native, urged during an emotional Veterans Day program attended by about 60 people.
Burch said although individuals might not consider their stories to be vital or even interesting, every story is uniquely important in the cause of keeping experiences of war-time sacrifices alive. She added that future generations need more than a brief history book or web accounts of wars to truly “feel” their impact.
Burch referenced the recent general election as an example of the independence earned and maintained by the nation’s veterans and their families.
“You all made that possible,” she said.
Burch suggested that war-time recollections be written in notebooks, video-taped by friends or family members or recorded through a number of free services currently available.
“Talk about the good stuff, the fun stuff and the bad stuff,” said Burch. “Everything matters.”
Bill Dobbins, who devoted 20 years to military service, paraphrased a salute to combat soldiers in voicing a reminder of veterans’ sacrifices to the nation’s liberties.
“It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion,” he said. “It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.”
“It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote. It is the veteran who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag,” Dobbins said.
Resident veterans recognized included Major Akenhead, Ted Cash, Jack Currie, Bill Ferren, William James, Sig Johnson, John Harris Jones, Stephen Matthews, Orben McLemore, Currin Nichol, Joe Nisbett, Coy Nixon, Malcolm Osmer, Ken Theis, W.J. Thomasen and Lucille Webber. Farewell salutes were given to Michael Strahota, Mike Meroney and Medal of Honor recipient Nick Bacon.
Trinity Village Activities Director Jane McMullin served as emcee. Members of the Watson Chapel High School Reserved Officers Training Corps presented a color guard and Taps ceremony. Brenda Tiner and Fred Arnold provided music.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Post 4455 Chaplain Ella James lead a prayer.
“We fight for God and country,” said Burch.