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Archive for Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans organizations offer support, way to connect

November 11, 2012

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The Veterans Day ceremony at American Legion Dorsey-Liberty Post 14 drew dozens of older veterans, as usual, but fewer young ones.

Veteran John McCoin, Lawrence, listens as Taps is played during a Veterans Day ceremony at American Legion Dorsey-Liberty Post 14 on Sunday. The ceremony was a joint event by the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Veteran John McCoin, Lawrence, listens as Taps is played during a Veterans Day ceremony at American Legion Dorsey-Liberty Post 14 on Sunday. The ceremony was a joint event by the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Many of those who attended Sunday said they want that to change.

Guest speakers from Douglas County veterans organizations said they needed to attract more young veterans, many of whom have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years needing support but not connecting with groups like American Legion Post 14.

Hank Sipple, finance manager for the post, said the American Legion was just one of several veterans organizations in Douglas County where young veterans could get connected with medical services or other help. Others include Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans, both of which helped organize Sunday’s ceremony that included a 21-gun salute by an honor guard from American Legion Post 14 and VFW Alford-Clarke Post 852.

“A whole lot of them don’t know what’s available,” Sipple said. “We’ve got to get younger veterans involved.”

Ed Mount, commander of American Legion Post 14, said organizations like his have lost generations of returning veterans to changing attitudes among both citizens and soldiers in the 20th century. He remembered soldiers returning from World War II were greeted with parades and pageantry.

“There was no talk of an exit strategy then,” he said. “All of that is gone. These are political wars.”

Guest speaker U.S. Army Major Tim MacDonald, an Iraq War veteran who also served in Bosnia-Herzegovina, brought a message from his father, a Marine Corps veteran.

Veterans, he said, are people who left home to seek out new experiences and dangers, to meet new people across the world. They should not be afraid of the unknown, he said, or of going out and approaching young veterans and bringing them into these organizations.

Felix Zacharias, 30, an Iraq War veteran and vice commander of VFW Post 852, was one of the youngest veterans present Sunday. He said some young veterans badly needed someone to reach out to them.

“If you ever know a veteran who needs help, please guide them,” he said.

Comments

Citizen_X 2 years, 1 month ago

Honor a Vet today (11-12-2012) by coming to the Lied Center at 11:00.

In the spring of 1952, Marine Corps veteran Chester Nez had completed three years of study at the University of Kansas. Unfortunately, he had exhausted his GI Bill funding. Unable to secure enough money to complete his fine arts studies, Nez, a Navajo who grew up in New Mexico before attending boarding school in Arizona, relocated to Albuquerque, NM to find work and start a family.

All the time, Nez was keeping secret – one he and others would keep for over 20 years. He was among the original 29 members of the all-Navajo 382nd Marine Platoon, now known more commonly as Code Talkers. During World War II, a total of 420 Code Talkers used a code based on the Navajo language that was devised by the original 29 recruits.

Now 91 years old and the last remaining survivor of the original 29 Code Talkers, Nez will at long last receive his KU degree.

In honor of his service and to celebrate Veteran’s Day, the University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will present the degree he was unable to complete 60 years ago to Nez. The ceremony will begin at 11:00 am on Monday, November 12 at the Lied Center Pavilion on the Lawrence campus. This recognition ceremony is free and open to the public and is part of KU’s Native Heritage Month activities.

Nez will be joined at the ceremony by members of his family and by Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback, who welcomed Nez to Topeka in September during the Kansas Book Festival. Nez and Judith Schiess Avila are co-authors of the book Code Talker: The first and only memoir by one of the original code talkers of WWII. In addition, City of Lawrence will present him with the “keys to the city”, the Alumni Association will present him with a class ring and Haskell Indian Nations University will present him with a gift; as well as the CLAS and the Native Faculty and Staff Council at KU.

Please share this with everyone and I would hope that we get a great turnout for this event. This is pretty special and we need to show our support that recognitions/ceremonies like this are important to us as a campus community.

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