By Frank Lewis
Scores of veterans enjoyed lunch, a T-shirt and visiting with agencies involved in serving them during the 21st Annual Veterans Recognition Day at Shawnee State University (SSU). Michael Hughes of SSU was in charge of the event.
“This is put together by the community,” Hughes said. “The university provides all the space and set-up and then we have about a dozen community agencies that contribute funds to the event.”
The program was re-instated after a two-year hiatus caused by the lack of funds. But this year, with the planning by Sam McKibbin, it is back and looks to get bigger year by year.
“We had several (sponsors) step up to the plate this year and contribute a significant amount to it,” Hughes said. “So hopefully next year we can go full-blown again – the Army parachute teams and the helicopters and all the rest that usually goes with the event.
The day will perpetually take on a new meaning. Nov. 10 from this year forward will be recognized in Ohio as Dual Service Day, honoring veterans who served in the military, only to return and serve in another capacity as police officer, firefighter, EMT, or related job. The event was kicked off by Jaycee Carter of New Boston High School who sang the National Anthem. Then the crowd was told the state legislature has made it an official observance.
“This day – Nov. 10, will forever be in the Ohio hall of honor – the day that we recognize dual service personnel,” State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson said.
Johnson, himself a retired Colonel in the Ohio Army National Guard, spoke to the crowd about dual service.
“Here at home, day to day, we have heroes around us,” Johnson said. “When there’s a fire, they speed toward it. When there’s a robbery, they button up in their cars and they roll toward it. When someone’s having a heart attack and the siren goes off out in the hills of southern Ohio, people come from all around to man the ambulances – heroes among us, and a lot of those folks that do that either are serving in the United States military or have served.”
U.S. Representative Dr. Brad Wenstrup was one of the people who came up with the idea of honoring dual service personnel.
“We see so much going on across the nation where people are criticizing our police day in and day out and it really bothers me because I’ve had the opportunity to serve with so many people that were police and firemen,” Wenstrup told the Daily Times. “But also serving in our military, and I was talking to Terry Johnson about it and the idea was hatched that in Ohio we would try to make this day the Dual Service Recognition Day. It should be signed by the governor next week and I’m going to try to do the same thing in the House.”
Wenstrup told the Daily Times there is a reason why a day is set aside to honor veterans.
“Just think about it,” Wenstrup, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, said. “When you’re in trouble – who you gonna call?”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.
State Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson addresses those in attendance at the Veterans Recognition Day event for veterans on the campus of Shawnee State University Tuesday morning. U.S. Rep. Dr. Brad Wenstrup (far right) also spoke at the event.