Veterans put our country first every day, on Saturday the country and those in attendance at Culpeper National Cemetery put veterans first.
During the annual Veteran’s Day Ceremony, Brett Reistat, Past Dept. Commander, and Candidate 2018-19 American Legion National Commander, spoke of the importance of honoring and remembering our veterans.
“Heroes returned from Vietnam and were discouraged from wearing their uniforms in public places,” Reistat said. “Due to the disrespectful actions of some protesters and others who disagreed with policies that were set by our elected officials. Too often the protesters failed to realize it wasn’t a campus agitator who insured our first amendment rights, it was the military veteran.”
Reistat pointed out the sacrifices soldiers make when they enlist or are drafted. They lose quality family time, they lose a part of themselves to protect this nation and sometimes, they pay the ultimate price.
“That’s what veterans do, they put others first,” Reistat said. “Today is Veteran’s Day, it is a day we put veterans first. Putting veterans first also means support and care for their families.”
Reistat said Veteran’s Day is not just a day to honor those who served in a time of war, but any soldier who have given of their time in the Armed Forces. They need to know they are appreciated and cared for when they return home, and sadly many are not. Reistat said that about 20 veterans a day take their own lives, and that is a number that can be prevented. He said that if you see a veteran showing signs of depression – help them. Guide them to the services available. He also said the American Legion can help, guide them to a local post and help a veteran who has helped protect us.
“You don’t have to live in a military town to know veterans,” Reistat said. “Veterans are everywhere. It is up to us that every veteran feels the service to his or her country is appreciated by their fellow Americans. There are many tangible ways to acknowledge their sacrifice. The easiest is simply to say ‘thank you for what you’ve done for our country.’”
Reistat said while those who have served in a time of war should rightly be honored and recognized, the service extends far and beyond as they help prevent engagements as well.
“The best wars are the ones that are never fought,” Reistat said. “We need to remember that war is not a mere history lesson, for them the battles continue even after the firing stops. We need to remember that veteran benefits are a cost of war. ”
Matthew Priest, director of Culpeper National Cemetery, said the Culpeper community has strong ties to its veterans.
“It’s truly a blessing to see the community come out here and support the national cemetery,” Priest said. “The selfless sacrifice all veterans and their families take for this great nation should not be unnoticed. On this Veteran’s Day and every day this month, I want to say thank you, thank you for all you do.”