Cottrel: Clark County veterans honored to serve, be recognized

Last weekend I was impressed by all the special events surrounding Veterans Day. There were so many and they were well done.

When I was growing up, Veterans Day was kind of a quiet holiday. I remember the red paper poppies that were sold and all the reminders of World War I. After all, the end of “The Great War” was on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 minutes after 11 a.m.

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Now on Veterans Day, we recognize those who have served in the military during war and in peace. We concentrate on recognizing our living veterans. It’s a time to thank those who have at one time or another raised their hand and solemnly sworn to protect our nation.

This recognition of those who serve is particularly dear to me. As the wife of a military retiree, I understand how difficult military service can be on the person and on the family. Seeing these veterans being thanked for their service does my heart good.

Last weekend I asked some veterans and active duty service members what they think of Veterans Day.

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When I think of veterans, Enon’s Vaughn Deal comes to mind. Now in his mid-90s, he still wears his World War II Navy Senior Chief’s uniform with its long rows of gold hash marks on its sleeves to church on special holidays. Vaughn got a big smile on his face when I asked him about the special veterans programs. He loves them all, he said.

Before he retired, my husband, Rusty, a Navy commander used to tell me that Veterans Day was not for active duty people. Our kids would have the day off and he would be working. There always seemed to be a flight, a meeting or a deployment on the schedule.

He was in uniform for four years for Navy ROTC at Ohio State University, 22 years active duty and 16 years as a Navy Junior ROTC instructor in Dayton. He spent 42 years in uniform. Since he has retired, he has thoroughly enjoyed Veterans Day and he hasn’t cut his hair.

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This year two of our granddaughters took him to the Veterans Day Program at Northridge School and they had a wonderful time together.

He was also gifted with a sweet handmade card that’s now firmly affixed to the refrigerator. He’d like to thank student Kelci Lanich for the patriotic art.

When someone thanks Rusty for his service, he always tells them that he was honored to serve.

I asked Tecumseh’s Dave Suther how his Veterans Day went and got this reply.

“It was excellent! Yesterday started it off visiting all the Tecumseh schools, attending their programs, and today I participated in a flag retirement ceremony with the American Legion. It was a great Veterans Day!”

Dave was once a sailor in the U.S. Navy. I asked how he feels when someone thanks him for his service.

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“Always a great feeling,” he said. “It happened so long ago and I’m just as proud of my civilian years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base continuing to serve this great country.”

I appreciate that Dave pointed out that behind our services members are millions of government workers supporting the missions. We are all a team. He worked at Wright-Patt for 37 years.

Some veterans didn’t want to be named.

A former Army doctor said, “Well … It definitely brings back memories, especially in the era of social media and being reminded of old friends and experiences. Not sure if I actually look forward to it but I appreciate it for what it is.”

Another veteran told me he didn’t usually make a big fuss about his having served his country but he did enjoy the big veterans commemoration at his granddaughter’s school. It was uplifting.

A high school student told me that he takes the veterans ceremony at Greenon very seriously. “Someday,” he said, “I will be a veteran.”

This Veterans Day was especially significant for Lt. Col. Samantha Adducchio, who just returned to her husband and four young children after a six-week long deployment with the Air National Guard to hurricane ravaged St. Thomas. The stress that military separations put on families of service members under her command was strong in her thoughts.

Although the deployment locale was a “vacation spot,” she and her unit had just spent weeks living in tents and eating only MREs as they worked long hours unraveling communications problems for the territory.

She spoke of her children’s tears and her husband’s long hours as a single parent, and yet she took pride in how her unit helped the children and people of the island to get closer to normal.

We all know people who have served in the various branches of the military, in peace, in disaster and in war. Each has a different story, yet they all began with that same oath. They all served our country and protected us. Their lives were changed by their service.

It’s important that we listen to their stories and honor their efforts on our behalf.

I would like to personally thank all of you who took the time to plan the school Veterans Day events, and special ceremonies throughout this area. Your efforts were indeed greatly appreciated.

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