Vermillion honors those who serve

Vermillion honors those who serve
Family physician.

A major in the South Dakota National Guard.

A war veteran.

All of these labels can describe Dr. Roy Mortinson, a Vermillion physician.

After Saturday, the list of terms used to describe the Vermillion physician grew.

He now can be known as a keynote speaker at the community's Veterans Day program.

Mortinson was part of a star-spangled morning in the W.H. Over Museum's Sletwold Hall. The room was filled with historic flags, WWII vintage patriotic posters, and local veterans and civilians who took time that morning to honor those who are serving in the military, and those who never made it home.

It was a time of prayer, offered by the Rev. Steve Miller. And of beautifully sung patriotic music, performed by Russell Stewart, who asked the audience to join him in singing The National Anthem, The Battle Hymn of the Republic and God Bless America.

"Today our nation pays tribute to those veterans who have actually worn the uniform, and those who continue to wear the uniform," Mortinson said. "We remember those troops who left American soil but didn't return to be thanked for their service."

Veterans Day, he said, is a time to remember and pray for the men and women who have lost their lives in our nation's current military struggle in the Middle East.

It's also a time, he said, to remember their families.

"All American veterans have placed the nation's security above their own lives," Mortinson said, "and I think it's because we believe in something much bigger. We believe in God and in America."

He said American citizens have repeatedly shown time and again that they are willing to protect the nation's security.

"We're willing to make sure our children will know that tomorrow, they will be safe," Mortinson said, "and there will be hope. Because freedom really isn't free."

Protecting the nation, he said, is a very difficult job.

"But if we're not willing to do it, if we're not able to fight to protect our own freedoms, then who will?" Mortinson asked.

Mortinson, who has served two tours of duty in Iraq, helped his audience get a better understanding of life in that war-torn part of the world.

"I pray that we can get the Iraqi citizens to stand up with those same type of courage, loyalty and high moral values to protect themselves, so we can stand down and bring our troops home," he said.

Mortinson said he was honored to be asked to speak at Saturday's program, and he told audience members that their presence in commemoration of this important day was highly appreciated.

"You're not just saying that you remember the veterans, but you're out here actually supporting us, which is great," he said.

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