I am always amazed at the stories I hear about local men and women who willingly serve this country feeling that sense of duty as members of the military.
It is my privilege to be able to tell those stories, such as the one about Jon Ceplecha in today’s edition.
I never met Jon’s dad, but knew his mom pretty well and loved the chances I had to interact with her over the years.
So, I knew when I met with Jon it would be a great experience solely based on what I knew about his mother.
I will say I was not disappointed and I hope that comes through as you read his story.
During our conversation, Jon shared something with me that really helped put military service into perspective, especially as it relates to those whose military experience included active duty on the battlefield.
You see, people like Jon despite the fact they may not have a physical injury one can see, doesn’t mean they are not scarred by war.
The mental issues many soldiers face are real, and John equated that reality to having to live life with three prosthetics.
Yes, those mental issues can be debilitating, and for some just talking about their war experiences is just too much.
As one who loves studying history, I have read story after story about those who have served this country, but I now realize there are so many stories which may never be told.
I can’t help but think about some of the things our soldiers had to do, and that truth revealed itself to me recently when Sandee Geshick of the Lower Sioux Community visited my office. I was told during a phone conversation she would be coming to visit me with something for veterans day, and what she offered was a familiar poem with a twist. I have read on a number of occasions the poem that talks about how it is the veteran who gave us our freedoms, but so many times when the word veteran comes to my mind the picture I see is not necessarily the picture she sees.
This nation has been represented by myriad ethnicities in the military, including the American Indian, and the history of their involvement has not always been a good one. Yet, it is a story that must be told.
So many times racism has reared its ugly head when men and women of another color join the military historically speaking.
I have heard the horrible tales of soldiers being forced to do those tasks no one else would ever do – the kinds of tasks that would give anyone PTSD.
Those soldiers deserve just as much respect and appreciation as any other man or woman who ever put on the uniform.
Their service is just as valid and valuable as those of others, and I offer my thanks to them.