Today is Veterans Day, the day we honor and celebrate those who have served our country in the military for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Veterans Day originated in the years after World War I, taking note that hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany ended in an armistice "on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" in 1918.
Armistice Day was first celebrated on Nov. 11, 1919. The original concept was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.
By 1926, 27 states had recognized Armistice Day as a legal holiday, and in 1938 it became a legal holiday nationwide by an act of Congress. In 1954, recognizing that Americans had also fought in World War II and Korea, Congress changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
This year, the Post Independent asked veterans in our area to answer two questions about the meaning of military service. We received comments from 18 veterans who live or previously lived in our communities, ages 30 to 92.
We present their responses here, starting with our most senior veterans.
With this edition of the Post Independent, we salute all veterans.
92, Glenwood Springs
Service: U.S. Army Air Force, Captain
April 17, 1942, to April 12, 1946, in the India and Burma theatre
1. I learned to cultivate multi-cultural relationships.
Service: U.S. Army Air Corps, Staff Sergeant
March 18, 1942, to March 27, 1946, in Europe
1. I was 21 years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed Dec. 7, 1942. I was ready to be in the compulsory draft for one year. I enlisted in the Army Air Corps.
I served in the 97th B-17 group in Europe, which was the oldest group in Europe. I saw how fortunate it is to be an American. I saw devastation, misplaced people, hunger, poverty. I hope this never happens to the U.S.A.
I know what it is to lose good friends, and how important a good home, good parents and good friends are. I feel good to have been part of defending our country. I saw what happened to other countries.
2. I learned how to get along with people regardless of circumstances. To count our blessings to be able to live as we do. To be thankful for the brave men and women in uniform, knowing we can be safe each day.
I can relate to their feelings, being away from family and loved ones. I hope they come home without problems, so they are able to have a family and live their dreams, as I have.
91, Glenwood Springs
Service: U.S. Air Force, Lt. Col.
August 1940 to October 1964, at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, in the South Pacific, and in the Korean War
1. The process of photography, and how to lead men.
2. It taught me how I should get along with my fellow man.
89, Glenwood Springs
Service: U.S. Army Air Corps, Air Force Sgt.
Oct. 4, 1942, to Dec. 26, 1945, in Spokane, Wash., Pendleton, Ore., Oklahoma City, Salina, Kan., and Saipan Island, South Pacific
1. Do not volunteer in the service. Be on time. Be loyal and true to your country and your buddies.
Our freedoms are not free. Many paid the ultimate sacrifice to give us the life and freedom we have now. I served in the 20th Air Force that had the B-29 Super Bomber that flew missions to Japan. The Enola Gay was in our group.
2. Be proud to be an American. Honor the flag. We live in the best country and community; be thankful for that blessing. God has blessed us in many ways. I hope our young people appreciate living in the U.S.A.
88, Glenwood Springs
Service: U.S. Navy, Lt. Junior Grade
Oct. 1, 1942 to March 2, 1946, on a destroyer in the South Pacific from the invasion of Guam and Saipan, the Philippines and Okinawa
1. The first song my mother taught me as a child in the 1920s was,
"Soldier boy, soldier boy, where are you going,
Bearing so proudly the red, white and blue?
I go where my country and duty are calling.
If you'll be a soldier boy, you may go too."
In World War II, I chose the Navy to follow the red, white and blue. So what was the lesson? When country and duty call, you answer and serve.
2. Tom Brokaw called us the "Greatest Generation" because we grew up in the Great Depression, then fought and won World War II and the peace that followed. So, if we got the name, the fame and the game, guess we better keep on trying with pride to live up to it.
82, Glenwood Springs
Service: U.S. Navy, Lt. J.G.
July 1, 1951 to June 1, 1953, on a destroyer in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean
1. Performance of duties to the best of your ability.
2. Respect for the military and the U.S. Constitution.
75, Glenwood Springs
Service: U.S. Army, Colonel
June 1, 1958 to Aug. 1, 1989, in Ft. Sill, Okla., Ft. Bliss, Texas, Ft. Lewis, Wash., Germany, Vietnam and West Point, N.Y.
1. Leadership is not about self, it's about others. An effective leader equips others to do their job well and helps them reach the group's goals.
2. Army service teaches discipline, doing the next right thing regardless of physical or mental challenges. Coupled with a commitment to service to others, my Army experience has led me to work with an organization committed to the youth in our community, Kiwanis.
75, Glenwood Springs
Service: U.S. Army, Private First Class
April 1, 1957 to March 31, 1963, in Fort Lewis, Wash., Fort Richardson, Alaska, and Fort Greeley, Alaska
1. Discipline: I believe all young men should serve in the military for two years before going to college or into any job. The discipline you develop prepares you for life. Developing patriotism is a good thing also.
2. When I was 19 years old, the military draft was facing all young men so I volunteered, something I don't regret. We were at peace during that period but the lessons and training stayed with me still. Plus we trained as ski troops, which was a nice side benefit when I moved to Colorado.
72, Doniphan, Mo.
Handyman for my wife
Service: U.S. Army, Spc. 4
June 5, 1958 to May 29, 1961, in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and the last year in Korea
1. Listen to people with more experience.
2. Don't trust just anyone, and be prepared to protect your family at any time.
Partner, Private Equity Fund
Service: U.S. Navy SEALs, Lieutenant
Nov. 1, 1967 to April 1, 1971, in Vietnam and San Diego
1. SEAL training was very physically and mentally demanding, and I learned that persistence and perseverance were the qualities needed to succeed. These qualities have stayed with me since leaving the military and have helped me to accomplish what I have in life.
2. Having survived SEAL training and two tours to Vietnam, I am better able face difficult situations in my life with a clear head and confidence. I also learned that with hard work and persistence, anything is possible.
66, Battlement Mesa
Service: U.S. Navy, BM3 Third Class Petty Officer
1963 to 1967 in northern Europe with NATO-Caribbean-Mediterranean
1. How to listen to my superiors and learn from them how to be good leader.
Retired veteran's advocate, reformed workaholic
Service: U.S. Army, Command Sgt. Maj.
August 1965 to August 1992, including 19 years overseas
My great-great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. My grandfather Willam R. "Ray" Hutton of Rifle fought in World War I. His two oldest sons (now deceased) served and fought in World War II, and the youngest, Robert Hutton of Rifle, served as an artilleryman during the Korean conflict. I served 27-plus years, and both my sons served, including one on Navy SEAL Team 3.
1. Loyalty, meaning you are loyal to your ideals. Stick with what you know is right, based on how you were raised and taught. Don't deviate from that. Loyalty to your fellow man, to the mission, to your country, and your personal beliefs: God and country.
2. You develop discipline. I was a 15-year-old 19-year-old when I went into the service. It taught me how to grow up, how to stick with a course of action. It's the discipline to get up in the morning and do the best you can for the day, and a bit of self sacrifice to do things above and beyond what others might do. Working hard is a discipline.
Rifle Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor
Service: U.S. Air Force, Master Sgt. E-7
April 1, 1977, to Aug. 1, 1997, in Texas, Illinois, Germany, England, Colorado, California, Japan, Honduras, Panama, Korea and South Dakota.
1. Growing up in Minturn it was a simple life. Everyone's dad worked at the Gilman Mine and everyone's mom stayed home and raised the kids. It was Hispanic kids and white kids and we got along great.
Then I joined the U.S. Air Force and I was introduced to the world. I saw firsthand how cruel people, including some in the U.S. military, could be to other people, and how miserable that made them. I learned that if you use the lesson learned in kindergarten, "treat others how you would what to be treated," you won't be miserable.
2. As a master sergeant, you have a lot of young troops serving under you that you are responsible for. I mean, most of these kids had just left mommy and daddy for the first time.
I did everything from getting my guys out of jail to explaining the Air Force way to young male and female troops (i.e. "Listen, Airman, you're not in L.A. anymore. However, I can get you back to L.A., but it won't be pretty!). Most of them accepted the Air Force way.
Now that I'm the supervisor of my plant, I have both men and women under my supervision and my military experience has helped. Boy, has it helped.
53, Glenwood Springs
Apex Security Systems consultant
Service: U.S. Army, E-3
Oct. 5, 1976, to Oct. 5, 1982, in Germany
1. That the everyday freedoms, rights, free speech and civil liberties that we expect, that most people take for granted, would not be possible today if it were not for God-fearing patriots who have fought for, and many given their lives for, all to preserve.
One only has to look around the world and see the examples of many countries whose citizens do not have these rights.
Many patriots have sacrificed their lives around the world, so others in faraway lands may also now share those rights. Rest in peace, warriors. God bless them and their families.
2. Not to take anything or anyone for granted. The discipline taught by the military has helped me tremendously when it comes to dealing with my fellow men and women.
To act honorably with respect to all, but also to take a firm stand against those who wish to do wrong and harm others.
To be honest, loyal, faithful and determined with any task in life. To be patriotic and stand tall and proud of America. God bless America.
47, Battlement Mesa
Facilities Director for Garfield Re-2 School District
Service: U.S. Army, Sgt. E-5
July 13, 1983 to June 24, 1991, in Fort Benning, Ga., South Korea, West Germany, and Fort Carson, Colo.
1. Dedication to something bigger than yourself. The service of your country is the most important thing a person can do. The relationships that you form during your service stay with you forever.
2. The military teaches you that hard work and attention to detail are your primary tools in your everyday life.
Service: U.S. Air Force, Staff Sgt., Information Manager
July 16, 1985 to Aug. 1, 2005, in Arkansas, Turkey, Washington state, Italy and Texas
1. There are two. Teamwork: no one does everything by themselves, and integrity: doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
2. When no one else will do something and I am able, I will step up to the plate. I am very unselfish in my work. Nothing is "mine," and I give credit where credit is due.
I think about bettering my job. And I have no problem owning up to a mistake.
Lastly, I'm very accepting of other cultures.
Oil and gas worker
Service: U.S. Navy, AO 3
Jan. 8, 1990, to Sept. 6, 1993, in Japan and San Diego
1. There are bad people in the world, and violence is a solution to these people.
2. God, country and family.
30, Glenwood Springs
Service: U.S. Army, Sergeant
May 19, 2004 to Feb. 13, 2009, at Fort Hood, and in Iraq OIF and OEF
1. While serving in the Army I learned to be selfless. Serving in the military taught me that accomplishing a mission, carrying out orders, winning a board and making it happen wasn't about me. It wasn't about Sgt. Molina. It was about the squad, the platoon, the unit, the battalion, the brigade, the division - it was about the Army.
I had the honor to have served amongst the finest soldiers and leaders the Army has ever seen. If needed, I would have given my life for those men and women, just as I know they would have for me.
2. Now I try to live a life of integrity, as it is one of the Army values. I try to do what's legally and morally right. Living a life of integrity helps me to make good choices in life. It makes my relationships with family and friends stronger. And what's most important, to accept who I am.