At the commemorative gathering for Veterans Day in the Otto Budig Theatre Nov. 11, The Sons of the American Legion bumped shoulders with the Pendleton County High School ROTC, Dean of Students Kent Kelso and U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas.
A slide show presented pictures such as the Declaration of Independence and the Washington Memorial. Sophomore music major Talia Broering sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”
The NKU Student Government Association sponsored the event and Andy Hixson, president of SGA, welcomed the veterans, the dean, and Lucas. Hixson urged everyone not to “…forget those who are fighting all over the globe to defend freedom.” Hixson then turned the podium over to Kelso for the introduction.
Kelso asked for all of those who fought for our country to stand and be recognized to a round of applause, then dedicated his remarks to two people: his grandfather, who was a colonel; and a friend of the family, Steve, who is in the military and stationed overseas.
Kelso struggled to contain his emotions as he spoke to the gathering. He spoke of his 6-year-old son and the prayers that he prays at night for Steve.
“He prays, ‘God bless President Bush, God bless our soldiers, and God bless Mr. Steve,'” Kelso said, “It gave Steve hope that he would come home safe. He has a 12-year-old and an 8-year-old there.”
“Freedom is not free,” he said. “Nowhere does this resonate more than in the hearts of our veterans. This means more to the veterans than the protected will ever know.” Kelso went on to say that Americans sometimes become too comfortable because they forget the great price that was paid and is “even now being paid in Fallujah and in the mountains of Afghanistan.”
“We must never forget our debt to all who wore the uniform,” Kelso said.” We must not forget that many of those who left, never returned. We can never repay, only remember.” Kelso then addressed his closing remarks to the veterans seated in the audience. “Veterans, thank you, and God bless you, and the soldiers who defend us now, and God bless the United States of America.”
Lucas then stepped up to the podium. “I bring you greetings from the nation’s capitol. At this very moment, our president is at Arlington National Cemetery commemorating the sacrifice. As we speak, our young men and women are fighting and getting wounded. This is heavy stuff.”
Lucas himself was once a member of the military. He joined the ROTC and became a pilot in the Air Force, reaching the rank of major before leaving. Lucas has a son in the Air Force who flies missions and was a pilot in Operation Desert Storm.
Lucas took the chance to address the issue of the financial situations of veterans in the United States. “We have a contract with our veterans, and as a member of Congress, I can tell you that we are not living up to that contract. There are 25 million veterans in this country today, with 5 million in VA facilities, and the number is rising.”
Hixson then gave his closing remarks. “To our veterans, thank you for your stand, and for defending our freedom.”
Charles Mentke, a veteran who was a member of the Air Force said, “I was very impressed with this. It was excellent, concise, and the remarks were well-made. I hope they continue this.”