Thirty-four local veterans attending a special Veterans Day luncheon on Monday at the North Big Horn Senior Center represented 400 years of combined military service. Veterans who served in the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and various divisions of the National Guard, were honored in a room filled to capacity with community members who paid tribute to those years of service and to the sacrifices made by the veterans and their families.
“The patriotic dedication of families and individuals from this area is outstanding,” said Senior Center Director Denise Andersen. “When you start talking about that many years of commitment from individuals in such a small town, that says it all.”
Lovell Chronicle Publisher David Peck was the keynote speaker, noting the modesty of military heroes he has observed throughout the years, including the modesty of his own father regarding his military service.
“Veterans Day is about veterans, those who have served and sacrificed,” said Peck. “It is about pride and patriotism. It is about heroes young and old. It is not about glorifying war. Indeed, veterans are the last people who would glorify war, in my experience, because they have been there.”
Peck acknowledged the heroes attending the ceremony, who left the comfort of their homes to defend their country.
“It’s not about the glory of war,” he said. “No one is rubbing his hands together with glee at the prospect of going to battle. It’s about serving a greater cause, sacrifice and becoming a better man or woman in the process.”
He went on to speak about how the belief in equality makes Americans special.
“You know, it’s not politically correct these days to talk about American exceptionalism,” said Peck. “That makes us arrogant, right. It must mean we think we are better than everyone else, right. No. It is because of our belief that all men are created equal that, after fighting and winning wars, we then turn around and rebuild the very nations who were our enemies. That is exceptional.”
He pointed out that the words in the third verse of the well-known patriotic song “America the Beautiful,” are about “Liberating strife. Loving country more than self. Loving mercy more than life.”
“That is the America I know, that is the soldier I have come to know, that is the hero I look up to,” said Peck, who concluded his speech by personally thanking all of the veterans in the room for their service.
“I want to tell each and every veteran here today, thank you,” said Peck. “Thank you for loving your country so much that you will serve her and serve me and my family in the process.”
Lovell Elementary School music students, led by music teacher Chauna Bischoff, entertained the more than 70 people attending with patriotic songs. The Bank of Lovell sponsored a free lunch for all veterans attending. Longtime Guardsman Rich Fink was the master of ceremonies and set up the program.
“Many signs on the doors today said ‘closed,’ but our sign will always stay open on Veteran’s Day,” said Andersen.
by Patti Carpenter