Saluting our veterans on their day
Veterans Day gives all of us in the Lahontan Valley time to reflect on those who wear the uniform and serve their country.
While the number of veterans rose during the past decade because of Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of vets who have served during World War II and the Korean War keeps declining. Some of the latest estimates show that about 21.8 million veterans still are alive in the United States, but in 2016, about 600,000 World War II vets out of 16 million who served remain, followed by 2.25 million from the Korean War and another 1 million from Vietnam who actually served in Southeast Asia.
During the year, the LVN has been honored to speak to many veterans, especially those from World War II.
From the deck of their transport ship, U.S. Marine Roland Christiansen and other Marines stared at the battleship USS Arizona, which sunk as a water-sealed tomb with more than 1,100 sailors aboard.
We were saddened to learn Christiansen died in July.
The U.S. Army moved east across Nazi Germany in a race against time during the spring of 1945. One of the liberators of prisoners held at a Nazi concentration camp was Sgt. Robert McHaney, who had also stormed Omaha beach at Normandy during the June 1944 D-Day invasion and weathered the winter during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium.
McHaney died several months later after he spoke at a remembrance for Holocaust survivors.
Robert “Bob” Lloyd remembers the first wave of Japanese torpedo bombers flying over Oahu as if the fateful mission happened yesterday.
As one of two surviving Pearl Harbor veterans who attended on Dec. 7, 2016, at the USS Nevada memorial behind the state capitol, Lloyd had joined the Army in 1939 and asked for an assignment to Hawaii.
Petty Officer First Class Robert Kizer never regretted enlisting in the Navy during World War II. As an 18-year-old gunner, he said he felt fear every time he climbed into a TBM torpedo bomber, lifting off from an aircraft carrier in search of the enemy.
We are indebted not only to the veterans from the World War II era but also to those servicemen and women who served in both war and peace, a fact not lost on this community.
Every year Lahontan Elementary School teacher Kieran Kalt, a former Army lieutenant organizes an annual Veterans Day salute that will be held on Thursday and begins with a breakfast.
She ensures that all of us will remember the previous and current veterans who have given so much of themselves to their country.
And as a fitting tribute to veterans, we want to recognize Churchill County High School teacher Steve Johnson again, who was this year’s Veterans of Foreign Wars National Teacher of the Year.
In his remarks at the VFW national convention, Johnson, who had a son who served in Iraq, said, “I am proud to be a citizen of this country. I just want to thank all of you … and without your service, we wouldn’t have this country. America is really a shining beacon to the world of freedom and human rights.”
A former student, Navy pilot Lt. Shane Groover, said Johnson’s support for the military is evident just by walking into his classroom where visitors will find a wall full of pictures of former students who have served or are serving proudly.
This nation owes gratitude to veterans who took an oath to protect our freedoms and our way of life. They signed a blank check with no expiration date. That is why we, as citizens of the greatest country on Earth, should never forget our veterans who have unselfishly given their time because of their love to their country.
LVN editorials appear on Wednesdays.