Honoring those who serve
Although most of the images that come to mind when thinking about Veterans Day and the many wars that America has taken part in throughout its history as a country involve fighting, blood and soldiers on foreign soil, there are still other parts of war that do not involve bloodshed.
“I served as a corpsman in the Navy on a Marine base at Camp Pendleton during the Vietnam War and my experiences there were with guys coming back from their service missing parts and having to adjust to being back,” New Richmond Middle School science teacher Cheri Laux said. “A lot of the guys I saw were afraid of going back. All of the guys going over there were just kids.”
Like Laux, Jerry Dubois, a retired National Guard member and member of the New Richmond American Legion, didn’t see much action during the Vietnam War while he worked as a material handler in the Army and Air Guard.
“I joined the National Guard [in 1972] because I was looking for something to do,” Dubois said. “I was stationed at Fort Polk in Louisiana while I was with the Army National Guard, but when I transferred to the Air Guard I went on several overseas assignments. In my job, I was loading aircraft and making sure they were balanced before they took off. I would load the cargo and the people and send them on their way.”
Despite never seeing battle, Laux and Dubois both still feel a strong connection to the wars they were a part of and want to make sure that everyone who served is remembered on Veterans Day.
“I’m very proud of the time I spent in the service,” Laux said. “It was during a time when men had to join, but women didn’t, so I have no regrets. I still maintain some of the relationships I made back then.”
Dubois feels much the same way as Laux does and he also enjoys being part of the American Legion where he takes part in many of the Legion events throughout the year.
“Veterans Day is a time to recognize all the veterans who served,” Dubois said. “Anyone who signed their name to that paper deserves to be remembered for their service.”
For VFW Adjutant Dave Sharretts, who was stationed in Vietnam and worked as a mechanical infantry member, Veterans Day has a different meaning to him because of his time spent on foreign soil.
“It’s a day to remember those who served and who lost their lives,” Sharretts said. “It is a day to remember that freedom isn’t free and that there is always a big price to pay for freedom. I worked with a great group of men during my service and we were thrown into a lot of different situations together. Some of us didn’t make it back.”
Dave Green, also of the New Richmond VFW, uses Veterans Day as a time to remember who he was during his time serving his country in the Vietnam War and how far we have come as a country since then.
“Veterans Day, to me, is a time of remembrance of who I was at one time in my life,” said Green, who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment from 1967-70 before being wounded twice and sent home with a Purple Heart.
“What the kids are doing at the middle school with the Veterans Day ceremonies is outstanding. To me, the way things are looking with the kids and what they do now, I am very comfortable with our future,” Green added.
While going through war is never a good thing, Laux would still encourage young men and women to enlist because of the experiences that she had during her time in the service.
“I would encourage any young women to join; it was a wonderful learning experience all around for me,” said Laux, who met her husband, Tim Laux, at Camp Pendleton. “I am a teacher today because of my time in the military. I used the GI Bill to get my degree in education.”
There are many Veterans Day events taking place throughout the week before the holiday, as well as many taking place on Nov. 11. The New Richmond Middle School will host its annual Veterans Day assembly at the school starting at 8 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 8, while St. Mary’s School in New Richmond will hold its ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 7, starting at 9 a.m. A Veterans Day ceremony will also be held at the New Richmond American Legion Post 80 with the ceremony beginning at 11 a.m., and a lunch being served following the ceremony.
“Veterans Day is a time to remember those who have served, no matter if they are dead or alive,” Laux said. “We should especially honor the people who are enlisting now since they are not being forced into service. I am very appreciative of all they do.”