The men and women of the U.S. military have sacrificed so much in their lives. They don't serve for the recognition, nor do they do it for the pay. They do it to serve their country.
Dennis Courtney, a 24-year veteran in the U.S. Navy and executive director of Streamworks, offered this message on Saturday to a gathering of more than 150 veterans, family and military supporters at a ceremony celebrating Veterans Day at the Kingsport Veterans Memorial.
“Today we celebrate Veterans Day and honor all of those who have worn the military service uniforms of this great nation,” Courtney said. “The sacrifices are real for each and every veteran, so let's never forget to thank them.”
Veterans Day is an annual U.S. holiday honoring military veterans with ceremonies typically held at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — the official ending of World War I. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed the holiday in 1919, then called Armistice Day, to honor the veterans of WWI. President Dwight Eisenhower expanded the holiday to include all veterans.
The Kingsport Veterans Memorial honors Kingsport veterans, both living and dead, who served from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under sunny skies and cool temperatures, Courtney's 15-minute speech to those in attendance, carried a number of messages, from teaching children the importance of Veterans Day, to setting an example in the community, to passing along patriotism to the next generation.
“There are plenty of kids out there without a person in their life that can be a positive influence and teach them the meaning of Veterans Day. ... These kids need to hear your story,” Courtney said. “Tell them why Veterans Day is important. Tell them what this country means to you, why it's the best country in the world.”
Courtney said when he was in uniform, he always felt honored when someone would come up to him, shake his hand and say “thank you.”
“I felt thankful to live in a country where its citizens respected the uniform of the armed services.”
Passing along patriotism is crucial to the future survival of America, Courtney said, urging those in attendance to teach their children and grandchildren the art of giving through gratitude and a humble heart.
“Deliver a plate of cookies to an elderly veteran who might be alone during the holiday. Bring back the art of being a neighbor to the stranger next door and give the way our veterans have graciously given to each citizen to ensure our freedom,” Courtney said. “Teach our children the importance of national holidays, the meaning of traditions and reverent acts of patriotism.”