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Wilkes County Veterans History Project: Memorial Day 2023

Allison Huffman, Wilkes County Veterans Service Officer

Heather Dean, VFW Auxiliary Member

Presley Barker, Winner of the Patriot's Pen Essay Contest

Missing in Action - MIA Table

VFW Honor Guard

Boy Scouts Present Flags

Tim Woods, NC VFW State Commander, and service dog Sadie

VFW Chaplain, Larry Reavis, leads prayer with Kevin Ross in the background

Tim Woods, NC VFW State Commander, with service dog Sadie

and Maebelle Nance, VFW Auxiliary President

Placing the Wreath - Kim Hayes (L) and Heather Dean (R)

Why is the Veteran Important by Presley Barker, winner of the Patriot's Pen Essay Contest

The American Soldier - the epitome of bravery, duty, valor courage, integrity and honor to country. A selfless sacrifice of their dreams, ambitions, and goals, all in hopes of securing freedom for the next generation. A veteran has answered their call to defense, all while protecting American independence and the freedoms we treasure and hold dear; this is the image and standard to which veterans should be held. However, these American heroes are much more important than words can describe.

The story of America was built upon the sacrifice and esteemed value of courage - having the will to persevere, even when circumstances seem unimaginable. The Founding Fathers of this nation essentially gave up their lives to better the lives of others, setting America on the path to victory; men and women who fought for independence expressed like-minded characteristics of our forefathers, instilled by the determination to succeed at all costs. For generations, American veterans have allowed these attributes to fuel their motivations and desires in the fight to protect the liberties of all individuals - creating a legacy and a heritage that many young men and women have called their own. These distinguished mannerisms beat on in the heart of these American patriots - surprisingly even into today.

Without the veteran, life as we know it would be drastically different and possibly unrecognizable. In society today, many of the freedoms veterans have shed their blood fore are gone unappreciated and leisurely thought to be insignificant. We are unbelievably fortunate to live in America - where dreams cab come true through hard work and dedication. However, if not for the veteran, this mindset would not exist - this ideology would assuredly vanish if not for the unmatched bravery of our true American heroes. If the American citizens are to continue their way of life and enjoy the independence won over two centuries ago, we must always treasure and honor those who have paid our debt - at home and aboard. 

It would be difficult, in some ways impossible, to put into words the struggles, trials, and hardships veterans have experienced. While the average individual could not possibly sympathize with the burdens and stresses of war, one could place themselves in the circumstances, in a sense. For a moment, imagine that the year is 1941; following the attack on Pearl Harbor, thousands of young men are called to war - facing a monstrous enemy wreaking havoc overseas. The young individuals love their country but also understand that they will leave a previous life behind and start afresh. Despite their longing for the past, they loyally accept the dutiful task their country had asked of them. This event did occur in 1940s America, where average individuals from all walks of life were transformed into soldiers - ultimately settling the price of freedom in World War II. This further demonstrates that we all have the American fighting spirit coursing through our veins and possess the ability to overcome. However, veterans, the ones who have sacrificed all, are the ones who truly deserve our recognition and admiration.

Though not easily explained, the veteran exhibits the hope of America. While veterans are the true keepers of freedom, they all share a characteristic dwelling deep withing their hearts: they are Patriots. This common attribute stems from a veteran's goal to protect and defend the people of this nation - both foreign and domestic. If not for the veteran, there would be no America. If not for the veteran, there would be no hope for tomorrow. If not for the veteran, freedom would surely die. When veterans are no longer appreciated, respected or valued, it is when the United States shall fall. This is why veterans are important, and this is why they shall not be forgotten.