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Letters to the Editor

Nation owes veterans more than we can ever repay

Each November I enjoy looking at the BCR’s Salute to Veterans. I see faces now long gone that I knew personally, or knew of through various research projects I have worked on for my collecting hobby.

Americans have been fighting wars for a very long time now. Wouldn’t it be nice to finally reach a point where our young men and women no longer have to do that?

The Editorial Board Roundtable was an interesting read. World War I was mentioned, and Jim Dunn was struck by how young our veterans looked. America’s youngest veteran of World War I was 12 years old. Bureau County’s youngest was 15.

My father, Elmer Johnson, quit high school at 17 after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and joined the Army Air Corps for the duration of World War II. He was certainly not alone. Nor was he the youngest.

Young people always seem to want to lend a hand in times of crisis. I left college at 19 and joined the Army after watching the evening news all summer in 1968 covering the Tet Offensive in Vietnam and the pounding our people were taking, with a personal feeling that I needed to do something. Not a popular thing to do back then, when others I knew were going to Canada to avoid service.

The veterans of all our wars except Korea and Vietnam came home to rousing cheers from a grateful country. I think all of us who served in Vietnam came home to a heartwarming welcome from our families, but our reception by the general public leaves many of us today with a bad taste in our mouths as we watch the really commendable reception given to our troops today.

I hope we, as a country, never again greet homecoming troops with profanity and mouths full of saliva.

The public should remember that our soldiers do not start the wars they have to fight in, and should not be treated like they indeed were the instigators. The political classes in all countries create the problems that cause so much suffering in this world. But you will never see them listed among the dead, wounded and crippled when the casualty lists are published.

Shannon Serpette mentioned in her part of the Roundtable that she is reminded on a daily basis during this time of year of the impact our local vets have had on family and country. I hope we as a nation are always reminded of the impact war has had on our veterans, especially our vets who have lost arms, legs, and/or sanity, who will live their war daily for the rest of their lives.

Please, please, PLEASE consider supporting such organizations as the Wounded Warrior Project and Paralyzed Veterans of America, etc. We, as a nation, owe these veterans more than we can ever repay.

Mike Johnson,


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