A bit of gratitude
Appeal Staff Writer
Dressed in full uniform, Staff Sgt. Jason Hillman stood surrounded by his fellow soldiers on Friday morning. His spit-shined black boots walked between the headstones as he helped his children place flags on the graves of veterans at Lone Mountain Cemetery.
“It’s sad that I didn’t get to shake each one of their hands,” Hillman said. “This is as close as I can get.”
While he has always appreciated the tradition of placing flags, it took on new meaning for him two years ago.
“A good friend of mine since we were little kids and I joined the Army together. He was killed April 4, 2004. I consider him my brother and since then, it’s meant more to me,” Hillman said.
The 26-year-old recruiter from Carson City said that despite the risks, serving his country is in his blood. His grandfather served in World War II and his uncle was in Vietnam.
Hillman has served for nine years and re-enlisted twice, once while deployed in Iraq. He has been deployed overseas three times, once in Afghanistan and twice in Iraq, including a year in Baghdad.
“The military is a great life,” he said. “There’s a lot of benefits to being in the military. There’s no prouder way to be an American.”
Hillman watched as his 7-year-old twins Kayla and Jacob as they helped 4-year-old Nathan stick flags by the headstones.
“I don’t want history to die, and if I teach them then it won’t. This is why they served, this is what they were protecting,” Hillman said.
Hillman’s wife, Jessica, said that even though it’s hard sometimes, she understands her husband’s desire to serve.
“It’s stressful, but he wants to serve his country and I knew that when I married him. It’s very, very hard and very stressful, but you just have to grit your teeth and stick through it. I’m so proud of him and all he’s done,” Mrs. Hillman said.
Hillman’s family was joined by Sean Gibbons, 17, who wanted to do something to show his support of veterans.
“They fought for their country. It’s the least we can do for them,” Gibbons said.
The group placed approximately 100 flags on the stones Friday morning and was headed out to buy more and return in the afternoon.
In addition to the tradition and patriotism inherent in Nov. 11, today also holds a special meaning for Staff Sgt. Hillman.
It’s his birthday.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.
Navy League Veteran’s Day Dinner
Dinner is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. today at the Pinon Plaza, Highway 50 East. Annual tribute to the nation’s veterans; with military ceremonies. Speaker is RDML Pat McGrath, deputy director, Navy Region Southwest. Call for reservations, 882-5205.
Carson City Elks Lodge No. 2177 Veterans Dinner
Dinner is at 6 p.m. today at the Elks Lodge, 515 N. Nevada St. Cost $6 per person; veterans with card free. Menu is spaghetti with meatballs, Caesar salad, cheesy garlic bread and dessert. Proceeds to Carson City Senior Citizens Center’s Adopt a Senior Veteran in the Meals on Wheels program. Call 882-2177.
Veterans Day Parade and Celebration – Virginia City
Parade begins at 11 a.m. today at the Fourth Ward School. Late entries welcome. Parade forms at 10 a.m. at the school. Veterans and active-duty personnel receive discounts on merchandise, meals and drinks in any business that sports an “Armed Forces Appreciation Weekend Participant” sign.
Federal government waiving park fees today
Fees will be waived for veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces using public recreation lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation today.
Veterans Day Parade – Reno
Parade begins at 11 a.m. today. Route covers Arlington Avenue from Fifth Street south to Court Street.
Fourth annual Veterans Day Celebration – Reno
Veterans Guest House, 880 Locust St., Reno. This year’s celebration honors the women who are or have served. The Washoe County School District JROTC Honor Guard will present the colors. Call 324-6958.