Stricherz to vets: 'Welcome Home' By: David Lias
Plain Talk Dr. Matt Stricherz, retired master chief, United States Reserve, had a simple message for all veterans at Mondayâ�?�?s Memorial Day service in Vermillion. â�?�?Welcome home,â�? he said. Stricherz, standing among wind-whipped flags while speaking in a ceremony held outdoors at the Clay County Veterans Memorial, located on the grounds of the Clay County Courthouse, said political and social unrest has changed the dreams of many families across the nation and in South Dakota. â�?�?Today, with the changes in our worldâ�?�?s economic and political standing, with the change that some world leaders have thrust upon their citizens, and for their lack of civility or morality toward citizens of this globe,â�? Stricherz said, â�?�?this 2008 Memorial Day reminds us that we have lost approximately 4,400 servicemen in the last four to five years in a journey thatâ�?�?s changed our lives not only here in South Dakota, but also across the United States and around the globe.â�? Stricherz, a Vietnam veteran who today is director of student counseling at The University of South Dakota, said the heart of America is freedom, and our nationâ�?�?s values and love of freedom are the main reasons Americaâ�?�?s young men and women are sent in harmâ�?�?s way. He reflected back on the 1991 skirmish in Iraq, which involved the local medical company of the National Guard. He remembers Gen. Sykora coming to Vermillion to address the crowd that gathered to welcome the local medical unitâ�?�?s return. The general asked all World War II veterans, all Korean veterans and all Vietnam veterans to stand. â�?�?As I reflect back on that day, it was the very first time that I heard â�?�?welcome back,â�?�? â�?Stricherz said. â�?�?As I reflect now, I could have not stood there that day had it not been for the World War II vets and the Korean vets and the other vets that went before me that gave me the freedom to enlist in the service and to someday hear â�?�?welcome home.â�?�? â�?�?To all of the veterans here, I do wish you a very fond and blessed welcome home,â�? he said. â�?�?And for our South Dakotans who are still in the skirmish in the Middle East, someday I hope to shake their hands and say â�?�?welcome home.â�?�? â�? The ideal journey of a United States serviceman sent to war, Stricherz said, ends when that individual returns to America with his or her mind, body and spirit intact. â�?�?And yet we are here today with reflections on all of the hows did they die, and whys did they die, and when,â�? he said, â�?�?and about those things that we want to remember about their service to their country.â�? Memorial Day, Stricherz said, symbolizes a time when Americans take a clear look at their past, their present and their future. â�?�?This one day, we acknowledge those men and women who so cherished peace that they chose to live as warriors,â�? he said. â�?�?These are the persons who provide hope for me, for you, for our country.â�?