OHIO VALLEY — Schools throughout the Ohio Valley honored veterans Friday. Honored guests attended ceremonies, spoke about their time in the service, and gave wise advice to the coming generations on loyalty, dedication, and patriotism.
According to Bill Mangus, post commander for Veterans of Foreign Wars 4464, over five million young men and women were in military service during the Vietnam Conflict. Of those, 2.5 million saw combat in Vietnam. Today, there are less than 800,000 remaining Vietnam combat veterans alive. At that rate, 300 Vietnam veterans die each day.
“For some reason we are dying off faster than vets from other conflicts,” said Mangus. “They are saying that we will not be here in 10 years. Every day that the sun comes up is a good day to us.”
Some schools went the extra mile for veterans, serving them a free meal as a way to thank them for their service. Others sang songs to the veterans, hoping to convey their appreciation for their sacrifice. Not only were veterans honored and given words of encouragement, veterans also gave back to the students.
“When young people join the military, they join a special team,” said James Cozza, retired Air Force Colonel. “Because they are on that special team, they should never have to face life alone.”
Cozza spoke well of his fellow servicemen and women, seeking to pay tribute to those who never see themselves as heroes. He finished his speech with one piece of advice for students.
“As high school students, you can’t do much for vets,” said Cozza. “But when you see a veteran; go up to them, reach out your hand, look them in the eye and say ‘thank you’. Nothing will mean more to them.”
Sound advice for us all as we honor those still with us and remember those who have gone on before us in the line of duty.