Honoring The Service Of Courageous Americans
The VFW Hall was filled with veterans, students, families and friends for the annual Veteran’s Day program last Friday. Speakers acknowledged the role of military men and women in the history of America and encouraged others to remember their service.
In opening remarks, the Rev. Curtis DeFord set the tone, outlining three ways he admires veterans: they accomplish the mission; they are unified, no matter the obstacle; and, they are patriots.
Palo Alto County native Lt. Col. John Cunningham was guest speaker. He is the Iowa Army National Guard, Camp Dodge, Operations Officer.
“Today we honor the service of our courageous Americas who have served throughout the globe, throughout our nation’s history. Whether in war time or peace, these veterans have served our nation with distinction and honor,” he told the large group at the VFW.
“The vast majority of veterans we honor today no longer wear a military uniform. Nearly 22 million currently living Americans have served our nation as members of the Armed Forces,” he stated. “Approximately 7 percent of our citizens have protected and preserved the freedoms of the other 93 percent. Today, more than 240,000 Iowans have proudly served our country and have earned the title of veteran. Despite being out of uniform, many veterans have continued to serve our nation, state and communities in some capacity. For our veterans, service is not a phase of their life but a lifelong commitment. Whether they served recently or defended our nation decades ago, veterans represent unwavering dedication to freedom, exemplified by the highest ideals of service to America.”
LTC?Cunningham reminded the group that the United States is still a nation at war. Oct 7, 2016, marked the 15th continuous year U.S. forces have operated in Afghanistan seeking justice for those Americans killed in terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“The terrorist networks are a threat to democracy and freedom around the globe,” he stated. “On this day we honor the unwavering courage of the men and women who have served in our military throughout time, including those who are engaged in the ongoing efforts of securing our nation in the fight against terrorism.”
Cunningham encouraged his audience, “On this Veterans Day, I ask you not to just voice your thanks to our veterans, but let your actions be the torch that you hold high.”
He continued, “In light of recent traumatic events in Iowa and divisiveness surrounding our general election, the highest honor you can give to our veterans is to live your life with purpose and unity, help your neighbors, volunteer in your community, use your voice and your talents for good, vote, recognize the sacrifices of our veterans, do something to help them and their families, no matter how small. Support our president in a peaceful transition of power. Your positive efforts to make Iowa a better place reflect the highest form of gratitude to our veterans for their many sacrifices. To all veterans, past and present, and to your families, there is no tribute, no recognition, no praise that can truly match the magnitude of your service and your sacrifice.”
Cunningham related the story of Jim, whose actions taught him that veterans don’t forget veterans.
“He taught me that pride in service is displayed in fulfilling civic duties. He taught me that traditions are important because they preserve memories in a society of citizens that forgets the cost of war is in danger of losing its freedom or wasting the lives of its youth. Jim taught me about the cost of war,” said Cunningham. “When I asked him about his service, he was both humble and modest. He responded when he was called, fought when he was ordered and he came home alive when so many others didn’t. Ever since I met Jim, I have been both honored and humbled by the ranks of our nations veterans.”
In closing he encouraged others to “take a moment and renew your covenant with veterans of the past and those yet to come.”