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VETERANS - November 16, 2006

I decided to attend the Veteran’s Day celebration at the Senior Citizens Center as an ordinary citizen because I wanted to give thanks to the veterans. Brenda McBride always gives the newspaper photos and a good description of the event, but as usual, a story came to the surface that Calhoun people should hear.

Robert E. Yoak was the speaker for the Veterans Day event. He has been a DAV van driver for five years and is chaplain for VFW Post 5959. His father, Arnold, and brother, Roger, were also recognized as veterans. All three served in two wars.

Arnold’s formal education ended after third grade because of his father’s death. He grew up on a farm and was needed to help support the family. He joined the army at the age of 17 and served during World War II and Korean War. Robert and Roger graduated from Calhoun County High School in 1966 and joined the Navy and served during Korean War and Vietnam War. They were together during their entire service. All three worked for Viscose and ended up in Wyoming. Robert lived there for 29 years. The trio returned to Calhoun County after retirement. Arnold’s wife is the former Mildred Bush, Roger is married to the former Beverly Kight, and Robert’s wife is the former Nancy Roberts.

Robert gave statistics that were startling to me: 82 is the average age of World War II veterans, 74 is the average age of Korean veterans, 65 is the average age of Vietnam veterans, and 700,000 veterans died in the last year.

A nation that forgets their veterans will soon be forgotten. The nation that honors their veterans will survive.

The military is only 1% of our population, 300 million Americans depend on 1% to defend our freedom, 15% are women and it is predicted that in 15-30 years the percentage will be 30% female. The ranks of veterans continue to grow with the Iraq veterans.

When asked about their mother’s feelings about having her family absent for such a long period, Robert said, “She was really proud of us for serving our country.”

He wrote the following two compositions and presented them at the dinner:

WHO AM I?

“I am just a farm boy, a factory worker, a teacher, a mechanic, a miner, a mill worker, whose forefathers and mothers came to this country to find freedom, and to worship God as they saw fit. It was a big dream, but to make the dream come true, we had to be at Valley Forge with Gen. George Washington. Those were some very dark days for our little army. Many of us froze to death, many of us died from hunger and sickness, but with God’s help, we made it through that troubled time and won our freedom.

Freedom is not cheap. We again had to leave home to fight the British and the Spanish and along the way we had to fight a bloody civil war that cost the lives of many. At the end of this war, America was a much stronger union. World War I saw many of us on the battle field of Europe, in the foxhole and trenches. We fought to keep our nation and the world free. Many of us will forever rest in the fields of Europe. We paid the ultimate price for freedom.

World War II again we answer the call for our country. This time it is truly a world war. We fought in the Pacific and the Atlantic. Again we will preserve, but at a terrible price. So many of America’s young men and women are lost, but America is free!

Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf and now Iraq, we always answer the call. We know that we may not all come home, but we know that the cost of freedom is always high. As America’s best, we will always answer the call to defend God, country and family.

Who am I? I am a proud American Veteran!”

UNDER THE EAGLE WE UNITE

“In these days of uncertainty, there is one thing that we can count on. That is the comfort of knowing that we have been and still are, a nation of honorable men and women who will answer the call of their country. We have been blessed by God who gave us these men and women who answer the call when needed. From the days of Valley Forge to Iraq, these brothers and sisters of the Armed Forces of the United States have stood together under the Eagle and the Stars and Stripes to defend our nation. Let us never forget what we owe those who gave all, and those still serving.”

                                                                  --Robert E. Yoak

Are you registered to vote for the next election? Thank a veteran by taking part in the election of public officials. We really can make a difference!

If you are a veteran, and your name was not included in this year’s edition of the Veteran’s Day Salute, please send your information to Bill Bailey, c/o The Calhoun Chronicle, Box 400, Grantsville, WV 26147.

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