Wherry: Our nation owes a tremendous debt to veterans by David Lias In a room filled with military memorabilia, from Major General Lloyd R. Moses' uniform to the giant United States flag that once flew on the mast of the USS South Dakota, David Wherry urged local citizens to have a greater awareness of the needs of veterans.
He spoke to an audience of over 100 people who gathered Sunday at the W. H. Over Museum for Vermillion's Veterans Day service.
"Once again, we have called upon the few to protect the many, and yes, once again, the few have answered the call," Wherry said of U.S. war against terrorism. "It has always been this way throughout our history.
"Unfortunately, all too often, we tend to forget the few that are willing to sacrifice in some cases everything for the many," he said.
Wherry, a retired U.S. Marine Corps major who served a tour of duty in Vietnam, has worked as Clay County's veterans service officer since 1994.
He briefly talked about the effort made in the last year to memorialize local veterans by displaying their military portraits on his office walls in the county courthouse.
"I'm very proud to tell you today that we have framed and placed on display over 400 photographs of the veterans of Clay County," Wherry said. "My office has been visited by people from 22 states over the last nine months, and their sole purpose was to come and look at these photographs."
He said he has learned that Clay County veterans' sense of patriotism and loyalty to the U.S. is beyond question.
Each of the photographs in his office tells a story, he said. "At the very beginning of each story is the simple truth that when that veteran was called, he or she answered," Wherry said.
More than just the men and women in the military make sacrifices to insure the nation's freedom, he said. Entire families are affected, sometimes permanently.
"I can speak from personal experience that I would not be able to complete 23 years of active duty in the Marine Corps had it not been for the support of my family," Wherry said.
His most difficult job while a Marine was serving as casualty affairs officer.
"When you tell a family that their veteran is coming home to them in a flag-draped coffin, the pain and emotions experienced by that family are overwhelming," Wherry said. "But I can also tell you without that each family understood that the sacrifice made by their veteran was for this great country of ours and for the good of the many."
Wherry said he believes the nation's "older" generation needs to educate some of the country's young people about the sacrifices that have been made and continue to be made by our veterans for the United States.
"We, the older generation, need to stop complaining amongst ourselves about this problem, and start doing something about it," Wherry said. "We need to visit schools and talk to young people."
He said the nation's older generations have no reason to worry that their efforts would be wasted.
The nation's youth, Wherry said, are keeping a strong spirit of patriotism alive in the United States.