NAPPANEE — Veterans Day is a day to remember and commemorate veterans, but their reasons for celebrating the holiday may vary.
Veterans Day is not about those who survived but those who were lost, according to Sgt. 1st Class Dewey Price, who was among Nappanee area veterans honored Saturday, Nov. 9, with a luncheon at Coppes Commons in gratitude for their service.
The most important part of the holiday, Price says, is the “celebration of my brothers who didn’t return home — it’s all about them.” Price says that his decision to serve for 35 years in Vietnam, Bosnia and Iraq was to support his brothers.
Price said he was a member of the Indiana Heroes Society, but “I don’t claim to be a hero — my brothers who didn’t come home are the heroes.”
Various speakers expressed appreciation and encouragement to the veterans, including U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski.
“I am so grateful to all you who have served,” Walorski said.
Walorski sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee and on the House Armed Services Committee, and says that she has a passion for these issues.
“It’s an honor and a privilege for me to fight for you,” Walorski said, “because you fought so hard for us.”
“The most important thing is the (honoring) of our veterans,” said American Legion 3rd district commander Ken Heckathorn.
But what is also important to Heckathorn is the assurance that returning veterans have easy access to their benefits, “and to make sure Congress doesn’t take that away,” he said.
Heckathorn, who served during Vietnam, notices a significant difference in civilian response to returning veterans. He said that when he returned home from Vietnam, he was spat on and called a “baby killer.”
“I hadn’t even been anywhere — just from basic training,” Heckathorn said. In 2006, he says he was called to serve in Iraq, and appreciated being thanked for his service upon returning stateside.
It was a “total change in attitude,” he said.
Heckathorn served with the Army Security Agency in Germany during the Vietnam War, and has instructed several specialized leadership skills courses. He says that his active duty and reserve service tallies 25 years.
Price places the holiday’s importance on those who were lost, but he is certainly proud of the service of those who responded to the call of duty. “We had a job to do, and we did our job,” he said.