A Lesson in Appreciation: Our Military Veterans
This month, consider acknowledging Veterans Day by educating your children about those who sacrificed for our country.
A “military veteran” is anyone who has served in the active armed forces. The Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force function under orders engineered to preserve the lifestyle we are guaranteed and sworn to by the United States Constitution.
Your child might know of some schoolmates with mothers or fathers who served. They might have family members–grandfathers, uncles, aunts–who served in some way at Keesler in Biloxi, Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, or NAS Pensacola. It is important that children hear the stories of these veterans.
William R. Jackson served a year in South Korea in 1965.
“I signed up for the U.S. Army in 1964 when I was seventeen,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I had started a family early in my life. Fortunately, joining the military gave me a means to support and have medical care for that family when I had very little work experience as of yet.”
He spoke a bit of what the Korean War was about.
“I was assigned to South Korea when they were still a third world country recovering from conflict in an attempted coup by the North Koreans,” he said. “The U.S. Military helped them get on firm footing in order to be able to defend themselves.”
“When my enlistment was up in 1967, I was a trained and experienced contributor to the American workforce,” he said, of one of the benefits of his service.
Ms. L. Sylve, a civilian who worked for the government alongside military men and women for 30 years, commented on what she learned from them.
“What they gain and what they sacrifice evolves into an intricate part of the American each of them becomes,” Sylve said.
“There would be times when the weight of wartime experiences compelled one of them to pull up a chair to my desk and share crucial details, and other times, to just sit in silence enjoying the comfort of friendship.”
Another American veteran who served in the Vietnam conflict, Jim Burge, now in his late sixties, served following in the footsteps of his family lineage. His great uncle served in WWI, or The Great War, as it was originally called. During WWII his dad and six of his uncles went to war, serving in the U.S Army, Marine Corps and Navy. Another uncle served in the Merchant Marines during the world’s recovery from the war.
Burge had a 20-year Army career.
“My family never pressured me into the service,” he said. “They didn’t have to, because I was already inspired by the men in my family who had kept our nation safe. And God was good; every last one of them returned home from those wars.”
“I, too, feel blessed to have successfully served and returned home to the family I helped to protect,” he said.
Roy Hoppe served in the United States Air Force from 1971 to 1978. He served at Air Bases in Alaska, Italy and the Northern Peninsula of Michigan. By the time he mustered out, he had attained the rank and rate of SSGT Accounting Specialist.
“Before I joined the military, I was in college and doing absolutely horrible,” he recalled. “I couldn’t keep my mind on my studies at all. So I enlisted and while I was a part of the Air Force life, I learned to put my life in perspective.” He said he learned discipline, order and respect.
Hoppe would later return to college and eventually become a System Analyst.
Incidentally, his wife, Sara, said she always felt safer going on a date with a veteran because she felt she could rely on being treated like a lady by a gentleman.
November, the month of thanks, was chosen in 1926 to celebrate and honor veterans such as these, and it became a national holiday in 1938. It was first known as Armistice Day. The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
Take time to thank any and all veterans you encounter this month. They may be older veterans, such as those quoted in this article. Or, they may be more recent veterans, who may be friends or family members, male or female. In either case, this year, find a veteran and encourage your child to give thanks, because they gave of themselves to give home and comfort to us all.
“All Gave Some and Some Gave All.”
Lynne Adams Barze’ was born in the Faubourg Treme’ of New Orleans. She moved with her husband to Picayune in 1999 and loves the state of Mississippi. Barze’ has penned five novels, freelances for magazines, owns an antique mall, and is a “proud cat parent.” She’s a member of GPAC and the Picayune Writers Group.