Archive for Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Holiday changes under shadow of 9-11, Iraq

November 12, 2002


The stateâÂÂs adjutant general challenged Kansans on Veterans Day to live lives worthy of the sacrifices made by those who died protecting American freedoms.

Those heroes and other military veterans were honored Monday in ceremonies conducted in the shadow of terrorism and a pending war with Iraq.

Vernon Russell, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 582 in Lawrence, said the year of worldwide tensions had sparked renewed interest in Veterans Day.

âÂÂWe werenâÂÂt getting as many phone calls before, but now weâÂÂre getting lots of people inquiring about participating,â he said. âÂÂThe interest is there now. People are aware that veterans exist.âÂÂ

But, he told the crowd of nearly 200 veterans and their supporters Monday, Veterans Day shouldnâÂÂt be entirely somber.

âÂÂThis day should be filled with gratitude for all the good things we enjoy as citizens of the greatest nation on earth,â he said.

More than 60 fifth-graders from Hillcrest School joined the community observance at the VFW, 138 Ala.

âÂÂChildren need to be exposed to this,â said Helen Tuley, a Hillcrest teacher. âÂÂMany have not had a family member involved in a conflict, and they should know about the sacrifices that were made.âÂÂ

âÂÂ'Earn itâÂÂ

Speakers Monday at the VFW included City Commissioner Jim Henry, a retired Navy pilot; and Kansas Adjutant Gen. Greg Gardner. The ceremony ended with the playing of âÂÂTapsâ and a 21-gun salute.

Gardner, delivering the same speech he gave earlier in the day at a statewide ceremony in Topeka, quoted dialogue from âÂÂSaving Private Ryan,â Steven SpielbergâÂÂs 1998 movie about World War II and the Normandy invasion.

Gardner quoted its central character, a captain whose squad was sent to find Pvt. Ryan, the only one of a familyâÂÂs four sons still living. The captain tells Ryan, âÂÂEarn it,â meaning he needs to live a life worthy of the sacrifices his fellow soldiers made to save him.

âÂÂThatâÂÂs a powerful challenge,â Gardner said. âÂÂHow do each of us earn the blessings of freedom that others bought for us with their lives? Do we take the time to stay informed? Do we know our Constitution? Do we study our history so we wonâÂÂt repeat it? Do we give back to our communities? Do we contribute to things greater than ourselves?âÂÂ

Other area ceremonies included:

⢠A 24-hour vigil at Kansas UniversityâÂÂs Vietnam Memorial, with a speech by retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Clayton Comfort, a 1953 KU graduate.

⢠A speech by Col. Royal Brown, a Leavenworth resident and veteran of three wars, at McLouth High SchoolâÂÂs Veterans Day assembly.

⢠The first Veterans Day ceremony since the reopening of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Mo., on the memorialâÂÂs south lawn.

⢠The statewide ceremony in Topeka, featuring a flyover by a KC-135 tanker. Gov.-elect Kathleen Sebelius also spoke, quoting Abraham LincolnâÂÂs Gettysburg Address.

Korean War veterans

Paul Idol, a Korean War veteran and retired Army colonel, joined Sebelius in laying flowers at the foot of the stateâÂÂs Veterans Memorial. The memorial is an 8-foot-tall granite obelisk on the south side of the Statehouse grounds.

Gardner noted that this yearâÂÂs ceremony was designed to honor all veterans, but soldiers in the 1950-53 Asian conflict especially.

âÂÂThe Korean veterans havenâÂÂt had too many things to honor them, really,â said Idol, a retired teacher and principal from Topeka.

Fifty years ago, Idol was a 20-year-old in an infantry unit whoâÂÂd started his service in Korea. He soon became a combat medic.

MondayâÂÂs ceremony brought back some memories. For one thing, he said, the chill in the air reminded him of Korean weather.

âÂÂThis is a fairly good example of Korea,â he said. âÂÂThere, we had the north winds out of Manchuria.âÂÂ

Back in Lawrence, one Hillcrest fifth-grader said she learned an important lesson.

âÂÂI think I learned how important Veterans Day is,â Mica Mendez said. âÂÂItâÂÂs important so we can remember the people that helped this country be free.âÂÂ

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