CHESTERTON | For many veterans, hearing two little words can mean more than any medals they may have received, a speaker at a Veterans Day program said Sunday.
“Each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say, 'Thank you.' That's all most people need,” said Wayne Smith, master of ceremonies at an event sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 905 in Porter County.
About 30 people gathered at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Chesterton to remember those who served their country, including the 1,629 Indiana residents who died in the Vietnam War and whose names are engraved on the wall.
The ceremony began with the posting of colors by the Portage High School Marine Corps ROTC, Vietnam Veterans Inc. of LaPorte, and members of VVA 905.
VVA 905 Vice President Doc Coleman said a prayer for prisoners of war and those missing in action, and a wreath was placed at the wall with a moment of silence.
Coleman also read the names of 36 members of Chapter 905 who have died since the chapter was formed 11 years ago.
In a speech titled “What Is a Veteran,” Smith said that while some veterans are recognizable by the physical wounds they bear, the vast majority go unnoticed as they go about their daily lives.
“You can't tell a vet just by looking,” Smith said. “He (might be) the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket – palsied now and aggravatingly slow – who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.”
Smith reminded the audience of the freedoms won by veterans, including the freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the freedom to demonstrate.
“(A veteran) is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.”