Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

TOP STORY >>Communities honor vets

Leader staff writer

In a veterans ceremony in Beebe on Monday, Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz, Little Rock Air Force Base commander, thanked the veterans and their families because, without them, he said, those in attendance would not have been able to join together in remembrance.

“I’m honored to be here to celebrate this occasion,” Schatz told the small crowd of Beebe residents and veterans during the American Legion Post 91’s ceremony.

“Our veterans are the reason we can serve today and what make us the best country in the world,” the general said. “The airmen of today look to and are inspired by those who served before them.”

Although the most recognized veterans are those of World War II, the ones called the “Greatest Generation,” Schatz asked the crowd to pause and reconsider their mental picture of what a veteran is.

“They come in many different packages,” he said, adding veterans are no longer only those from the past, but more recent service members, like Staff Sgt. John Self, a LRAFB security forces member who died in May while on his third – voluntary – tour of Iraq.

“It’s a new generation (of veterans) from an all volunteer base. There was no draft in place when they joined – they chose on their own to serve their nation and every four years they raise their hand and choose to serve again,” he said. Today’s veterans choose to continue to serve just like the many heroes who served before them, the general added.

“Our veterans are the keepers of freedom, sworn to protect this nation, and that is an oath they have taken very seriously. For this we honor them today,” Schatz said. “God bless our veterans, you and our great nation,” he said in closing.