Rob Poortenga with the riderless horse honoring fallen soldiers


Paul Vogel II opening the veteran memorial service with a prayer
Brant Vogel sang two sentimental songs relative to the event
Pat O’Donnell served as keynote speaker


Honor Guard from DOD
Gun salute
Daniel Moran’s closing remarks

What does it mean to be a veteran?

(written by Daniel Moran and an unknown author from internet)

A veteran is someone who has experience in the military, and quite often, in war. But that does not tell the whole story. Sometimes being a veteran has a greater meaning than someone who once wore a uniform.

The politics behind America’s military may be debatable at times, but the common thread of a veteran is the sheer guts it takes to hand a blank check over to the government for the amount up to and including their very life.

Many veterans will make light of their willingness to put themselves in harms way, and will joke that combat is the most exciting thing you can do. Others will rightly testify that it’s the most terrifying and horrifying thing a person can do.

And while there is no possible way to explain what combat is like to someone who has never experienced it, and never had their life directly threatened by another human being, those of us who have been there can tell you that both the best and the worst of humanity is seen in war.

Watching the top of your friend’s head get removed by a piece of shrapnel from an exploding 88 round during the Battle of the Bulge…holding your buddy in your arms while he slowly bleeds to death in the jungles outside of Ke Sahn, Vietnam after being shot by the Cong…or climbing up into your Humvee’s turret to man the 50 Cal because your squad mate fell back inside after an RPG exploded in his face…only to reach up and grab the gun’s grips, and instead, grab your squad mate’s still attached hand…

Or, it is your head, your blood flowing into the grass, or your hand blown off! Or, possibly worse, your injuries are of the mental kind… of seeing and doing things that no human should ever be witness to, or called upon to do!

These are the stakes that joining the military are all about. Yet, there are people willing to go do it, and if asked, they would go do it again in an instant. They experienced the most challenging of situations and through it all, cared for the homeland and the freedom we all enjoy more than life itself.

They laid it all out for one another…living, loving, crying and dying together. It is a weird dichotomy…war. How can it be that such things still go on in these supposedly enlightened times?

Millions of fellow American men and women that you never knew agreed to risk going through this hell for you. Many of them came back home in a flag-covered box, and some never came back at all. So, what kind of person can love you so much that they would die for you without ever having met you?

Who can love their flag so much that they would die for it, and for the principles she stands for? Who would take those risks and not expect any thanks in return, knowing that the thanks are, ironically, in having been one of the few to sign on the line and raise their right hand to God as they pledged to defend this country?

A veteran…that’s who!

If the idea of that does not stir your soul, what will? So, if you see a veteran, shake their hand, or maybe even give them a hug. If you cannot think of anything to say, that’s OK too. They’ll understand the message: Veterans in this room, I salute you.

And to all veterans who read this, and to their families, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifice as you proudly served your country.

For information regarding cemetery and funeral arrangements, call 219-769-8803.