‘I served my time and, thank God, I came back.’
Before joining the military, Eddie Dewhirst hardly knew what Veterans Day was until he served in Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Global War on Terrorism.
“These days, I see it as a big deal and now there are memorials and strong observance,” Dewhirst said.
Over his 20 years in the U.S. Army, he thankfully has observed the public’s growing appreciation for those in the military and it’s showing more on Veterans Day.
“With the current world war on terrorism, I think the veterans get a lot more recognition, unlike our brothers in Vietnam,” said the Des Allemands resident.
For Dewhirst, the importance of being a veteran set in significantly when he returned from Desert Storm. He had contemplated pulling four years in the military in communications. When he hit the 10-year mark, he decided he enjoyed what he was doing and made a career out of it.
Now, as he anticipates the ceremony, Dewhirst said it’s a time to reflect on fellow veterans and what they’ve done. He also anticipates being with his military buddies.
The West St. Charles VFW Post 3750 will be host a Veterans Day Ceremony Saturday (Nov. 11) at 11 a.m. at the St. Charles Parish Courthouse in Hahnville. St. Charles Parish Schools Superintendent Felicia Gomez-Walker will be guest speaker and J.B. Martin Middle School band will perform patriotic music. A wreath ceremony also will be held at the war monument at the courthouse.
Tommy McCully considers the day an opportunity to remember his fellow veterans who did not return from war.
“I love our country,” McCully said. “This is not about me. It’s about the ones who lost their lives and limbs. I served my time and, thank God, I came back. No one will tell me anything about my flag and burn it. That’s not going to happen.”
Zoe Mongrue of Bayou Gauche, a veteran of the Korean War, said there are substantially more people who express gratitude to veterans now than when he first served in the Army.
“Ever since the Gulf War, people got more involved,” Mongrue said. “Now, whenever I go somewhere, somebody I don’t even know says, ‘Thank you for your service.’ But when I first got in the service, I never heard anything like that.”
Veterans Day is certainly a day to recognize that service, he added. And it’s even more important “to see so many of your buddies still around – it’s worth it just that one day.”
After serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy, Brandy Hunter of Luling has been a member of the VFW for the last two years and says the veterans there discuss how much public perception has changed.
“They were not appreciated and I’ve had the vets at the VFW share that with me,” Hunter said. “When I see older veterans wearing their caps I make sure to thank them because they didn’t get the recognition that I got or the same ‘thank you’ for their service that I got when I went to the bank or get fast food when I was in uniform.”
Hunter welcomes the change, as well as what the military has afforded her in life. She added, “Veterans Day is a moment to appreciate what others have done.”
Bobby Lovergne agreed more people are expressing gratitude to veterans.
“As a veteran, it’s nice to be recognized for what we did,” he said. “We all took the oath to defend the flag.”
The Luling resident also talked about how he started in the Air Force intending to stay six years and it became 20 years.
“It gave you a sense of pride that you’re doing something that made a difference,” he said.
But it’s also heartwarming for Lovergne when people take the time out on Veterans Day to show a little more patriotism on that day than usual.
“You wear your Desert Storm hat and more people tell you ‘Thank you for your service,’ than they used to,” he said. “And it makes you feel it was worthwhile and people still have patriotism. Take time to thank a veteran for the freedoms you have now who served or is serving who gave you that right.”