An Observance of our Veterans’ Sacrifices

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In this second and final piece, the article will include interviews with four different veterans and their beliefs regarding Veterans Day.

Since the creation of the United States Military in 1779, millions of Americans have served their country in both times of war and peace. Although we honor their sacrifices, each veteran’s perspective of the holiday is rarely discussed. Four veterans expressed their views on the holiday: two who experienced combat during their service and two who did not.


Mr. Supple

Mr. Supple, a recent hire at Pentucket High School’s English department, discussed his service in the United States Army as a combat veteran and his thoughts about Veterans Day.

Mr. Supple enlisted in the United States Army in 2006. Although he had thought about joining the military while in high school, he noted that the surge of American patriotism after the September 11, 2001 attacks played a role in him joining the military.

Upon reflection of his choice to enlist in the Army, he thought, “I would like to serve. I would like to go in […] so my family doesn’t have to.”

His time in active service with the 2nd Infantry Division allowed him to travel to Camp Casey in Dongducheon, South Korea. Afterward, he joined the 181st Infantry Regiment, where he was stationed in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan.

By the end of his six years of service, Mr. Supple had risen to the rank of sergeant.

Now, years after his time in the military has passed, he realized he has become more “reflective” of Veterans Day.

“I didn’t think about the day itself or the old veterans,” he admitted, thinking back to his time immediately after his service. “I’m more affected by it now.”

Though he does not have any “rituals” for Veterans Day, he says that remembering the contributions of other veterans is important. He stressed the “mental and emotional sacrifices” of combat veterans must be recognized as well. Additionally, Mr. Supple honors veterans who did not experience combat, but made the hard sacrifice of leaving their homes behind.

“Veterans receive a huge amount of respect now.”


Kenneth Steeves

Kenneth Steeves was a first lieutenant in the United States Army from 1967 to 1969. During that time, he served as a post engineer at the Sharpe Army Depot in California. Although he did not see combat during the Vietnam War, he did sacrifice his time away from home to serve in the Army.

Steeves volunteered to join the military while he was a student at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. In order to pay for tuition and his education, he joined the school’s Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) program. This allowed him to graduate as a second lieutenant and be stationed along the West Coast.

Even after his service as an officer ended, he continued to serve in leadership roles. Every year, he helps organize Amesbury’s Veterans Day parade. His work with the community to help create a powerful event that honors and memorializes the city’s veterans. He actively participates in the parade as well and can be often seen leading the veteran contingent through the city streets.

On Veterans Day, Steeves also visits an elementary school in the Town of Kensington, New Hampshire to observe a program dedicated to the town’s veterans.

In his spare time, he is a member of the Kensington American Legion Post.

“I think of [Veterans Day] as a thank you for being a veteran, really. There’s fewer people that are in the military and it’s important that people remember.”


Gilbert Emery

In the late 1950s, Gilbert Emery faced an impending risk that would force him to join the military on his own terms: the draft.

It wasn’t uncommon for men to be drafted during this time period, even in a time of peace. The United States required men to involuntarily serve in the armed forces in order to maintain its military strength. This requirement ultimately led to Emery’s decision to enlist in the Army.

“If I was drafted, I would have been put in the infantry,” Emery stated. “So I thought I could get a better job by joining.”

As a specialist 4th class in the United States Army, he was fortunate enough to avoid the conflict of Vietnam. In 1960, he was stationed in Korea. While there he felt the “satisfaction of serving his country” and was able to follow through with a career in the military.

Years later, Emery added his thoughts about Veterans Day, saying that he felt it was important to still observe the day.

“I like the idea that veterans get recognized,” he explained. “I think that everybody should give two years [of service.] Not necessarily [military] service but two years of doing something for your country. Like, you could join the Peace Corps […] There are hundreds of things you can do for your country.”


Dr. John Bradley

John Bradley also shared his experiences as a combat veteran. As a colonel in the United States Army, Bradley encountered many situations that defined his career. In his 30 years of service in the military, he has been assigned to numerous locations, including Germany, Iraq, Bosnia, Egypt, and the United States.

Bradley “served in a number of units,” including 1st Armored Division and the 528 Combat Stress Control Detachment, during his time with the Army. Despite being assigned to different units, he ultimately found his home in the Medical Corps. During his stint with this organization, he supported a wide array of hospitals and medical centers, including the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Letterman Army Medical Center.

During one of his deployments with the Medical Corps for thirteen months in 2005 and 2006, he was stationed in Iraq. During that time, he was periodically exposed to hostile situations.

“I mostly performed medical duties, treated combat trauma, but also received mortar, rocket, and small arms fire on occasion,” Bradley explained.

When asked what the holiday means to him, the retired colonel stated, “Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices that veterans and their families make in service to the Nation, both in peacetime and at war. […] I am proud of my military service and grateful to have served amongst so many wonderful people.”


Each of these men demonstrated the courage and sacrifice commonly found in the American veteran. Because of their contributions to society, we are able to enjoy the benefits of liberty and freedom, including the opportunity to publicly honor our troops on Veteran’s Day. In light of their gift to this country, it is important that we always remember President George Washington’s instructions: “A nation is judged by how well it treats its veterans.”  

Hopefully we can live up to this expectation.