1 This is a day that honors all those who served. What's the best way for the rest of us to observe it?
I think if people would go to the veterans in their family and instead of thanking them for their service thank them for providing us with and protecting our freedoms and our way of life here in the United States. Be a little specific about why they are thankful for Mom, Dad or Uncle Joe's military service.
Then attend the Veterans Day Ceremony at 10:30 a.m. today at Memorial Park, and visit the National War Veterans Memorial Shrine and Museum, 2122 O'Day Road, this weekend.
2 Our country has asked a lot of those this day is meant to honor. Has America, in your opinion, kept its commitments to its veterans?
No. Our government has made many, many promises to our veterans and reneged on a high percentage of them. Here in Fort Wayne in the '70s, Vietnam veterans who went to the VA Hospital were told to “go away and don't come back.” After decades of fighting, things are now different at our hospital. However, we still battle over treatment for Agent Orange, burn-pit exposure for Desert Storm veterans, and PTSD for our brothers and sisters who served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq!
3 You've spoken out on this before, but talk a little about the sensitivity veterans may have to fireworks being set off in the neighborhood.
Most veterans can handle fireworks when they know ahead of time. We know that there will be fireworks on Independence Day – fireworks on June 28th is another story. I know many veterans who have rolled out of bed and hit the floor when surprised by fireworks. Fort Wayne has an ordinance governing the use of fireworks; please just obey the law.
4 Do you think most veterans end up being glad they served?
I can't think of a single veteran who is not proud of their service. Most would gladly do it all over again. Why? Because we love our country and our freedom. We would fight again for both.
5 Tell us a little about your own service. What's your best memory from that time?
I enlisted in June of 1969 and retired in 2002. Over three decades, I have an untold number of wonderful memories and my share of horrible memories. Lifelong friends and friends whose lifeless bodies I carried off the battlefield. I will say that the best decision I ever made was to enlist in the Army.