GUEST COMMENTARY: Take time to talk to a veteran today

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | 7:46 a.m. CST; updated 10:58 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The story of our nation has in large part been written by our veterans. Their stories of courage, bravery, struggle and sacrifice reflect the growth of our nation over the past 200 years. Our veterans not only helped protect our nation, but they helped build it as well.

Some of our veterans speak from the distant past, in letters written home during the earliest days of the American Revolution and the bloodiest days of the Civil War. Other memories survive on archival film and audio tape. And then there are those great treasures, the veterans who are still with us today to share their stories and help us understand better how important their struggles were to our nation’s survival.

How to contact the congressman

As always, I encourage you to visit our Web site at I also encourage you to call our offices in Columbia at 886-8928; Washington, Mo., at 636-239-2276; or Hannibal at 573-231-1012 with your questions and concerns. If you want even greater access to what I am working on, please visit our YouTube site and our Facebook page.

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Still, whether they were in the cold at Valley Forge or in the mountains of Afghanistan, our brave fighting men and women all share eerily similar stories of longing for home, lost friends and, in many cases, heroic accomplishments.

The written and oral history provided by our veterans not only reminds us of the lessons from our past but also provides us insight into our future. I have had the privilege to meet those members of the Greatest Generation who fought in World War II, and while their numbers are dwindling, their passion and their honesty about the horrors of war and the great sacrifices that were made are even more heroic when you meet them face to face.

I also have had the honor to speak with veterans from Korea, Vietnam, both Gulf Wars and Afghanistan who have shared with me similar stories and it is clear that all veterans who served during wartime and in peacetime share common bonds that are unique and worth recognizing.

So as we prepare for Veterans Day, we should all take time to talk to a brother, aunt, father, friend, neighbor or even a stranger who has worn the uniform about their service. Hearing from these brave individuals can only make us all understand what it means to be an American.

Most importantly, if you have the opportunity, thank those who served our country. As veterans have told me in the past, a simple “Thank you for your service” is as meaningful to them as any medal or ceremony could hope to be. It is my hope that while we have this one day to officially recognize our veterans, we should take the opportunity every day to remember them and, if given the chance, thank them for their service.

Blaine Luetkemeyer is the representative for Missouri's 9th Congressional District.




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