The Gallatin News
The Importance of Veteran's Day
The importance of Veterans Day has grown over the past decade, or perhaps it’s my older eyes that are looking more appreciatively at the day and its significance.
I recall many years ago marching with my fellow Boy Scouts in the big parade in Nashville a few times on what always seemed to be a cold and rainy Veterans Day. I was always impressed with the veterans who proudly wore their uniforms as they marched.
I’ve always counted it an honor to sit and visit with veterans of our armed forces and I’ve had that honor twice in the last couple of weeks.
I met with a trio of veterans at the VFW Hall in Hendersonville to get all the details for Friday’s celebration at the Sumner County Veterans Park.
I shared a cup of coffee and visited with Barry Rice, Fred See, and Bob Bentrem. These men didn’t talk about themselves or tell war stories; they are far more interested in what they can do today to help other veterans and getting the word out about the Veterans Day celebration.
I later learned that Mr. See was a Colonel in the Army with 33 years of service, including both active and reserves. He’s a veteran of both Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for bravery, two times. Mr. Rice was a Captain in the Army and an Infantry Company Commander in Vietnam. Mr. Bentrem, a Brooklyn, NY native, served in the Navy.
You may have read my previous column about the Veteran’s honor wall in the Graball Market, a few miles north of Gallatin. I kept thinking about those who still gather at the market each morning to share coffee, stories and a game of cards. I decided to join them early last Friday morning.
Several of the men whose military picture hangs on the wall around an American flag were there Friday morning. I got to visit with Steve Lancaster, a Graball native who went to Bush’s Chapel elementary school and later spent a few years in the jungles of Vietnam. Sitting around the card table that morning were three veterans; Johnny Hamilton, Gary Votter and Pete Gammon.
Mr. Hamilton is a native of the South Tunnel community who spent a few years in Germany performing encryption work for a communications division. Mr. Votter was an Army Lieutenant teaching young men to operate artillery during the Vietnam years. Mr. Gammon, a retiree from the former General Electric plant in Hendersonville, was an E4 Specialist in Vietnam. He was awarded two Bronze Star Medals for bravery and earned to Purple hearts the hard way.
These men are just the ones I’ve had the pleasure of meeting recently but they represent many more men and women who, like them, answered the call of their country and sacrificed for all of us.
I’ve said before in this column that we all pass heroes on the street every day but we just don’t know it. To me, our veterans are heroes and I thank them all for what they’ve done to preserves the freedoms we all enjoy today.
See you next week.