By Dennis L. Morgan
This week we honor the men and women who have served our country in both times of war and times of peace.
Elgin has a rich history of young people answering the call to serve our nation. That’s been well-documented, all one has to do is drive by the community sign to see the names of those who have answered the call. One can also go to our local cemeteries, particularly on Memorial Day to honor the veterans who now rest in peace, having done their part to protect our nation’s freedoms.
For more than a quarter of a century I have attended Veterans Day programs as a reporter, even longer than that as a young man. On Thursday I will again gather with many of you to observe the day set aside so long ago to honor our veterans.
Each year, it seems to change. For our greatest generation, those who served in World War II, the numbers are declining. It won’t be many more years before all who saved the world from fascism and totalitarianism will be gone to their eternal reward. Then, all we will be left with are the memories, silent photos and old news reels to show us the sacrifices they made.
I have never been placed in harm’s way where life and death could be determined by the end of a gun barrel. I have never looked towards the horizon and known that people standing there had every intention of ending my life to preserve their way of life. Yet, for the men and women who have served during times of war, when they have been placed on the front lines, they knew that tomorrow was promised to no one.
You and I can never know what that thought is truly like. We can only guess. Veterans don’t have to guess, they have lived it. Some have seen carnage which can not be put into words, the graphic horror of the moment. No movie can ever depict, no matter how bloody, what it is really like.
My grandfather served in World War I. My father marched through Europe as a member of the Army in World War II. My father in-law was a member of the peace-keeping force in Germany at the end of World War II. They are gone now. They served with honor until it was time to return home. Then, and only then, did they resume their normal lives. Each was born and raised to work the soil here in Nebraska and that’s what they did until their bodies wore out.
These men I knew were no different than the fathers and grandfathers who were part of your families. Like my family, there’s a very good chance that your loved ones who served during war time spoke little about their experiences. What they saw, the battles they fought in, the war-time buddies that were here one moment and gone the next, these memories they tried to bury in the back of their minds. Some moments were happy, others were not. They sacrificed the best years of their lives to defend freedom, whether it be in Europe, Asia or the Middle East.
So, as we gather Thursday morning at 11 a.m. in the Elgin High School Gymnasium, let us remember and say ‘thank you’ to all who have stepped forward to serve our country and protect our freedoms.
Sunday marked the end of daylight savings time. But, it was the continuation of one of the best ‘Indian Summers’ in recent memory.
Sunday was a fantastic day. November is supposed to be cold and dreary, preparing us for winter. Instead, at least for the first Sunday in November, it was a continuation of some of the best weather we’ve ever experienced this time of year.
A Sunday morning walk in Elgin was indeed peaceful. The temperature was cool but not cold, there was hardly a breath of a breeze and the sunshine made the blue sky stand out even more. Someone once said it’s important to ‘stop and smell the roses.’ Make the most of each day. It’s something we all need to do.
How about that football game Saturday? Those Huskers put on quite a show with a third-string quarterback and a porous defense. They took Iowa State’s best shot and still, somehow found a way to win. Or did they? One can make the argument the Huskers didn’t win the game as much as Iowa State and Coach Paul Rhoads lost the game with a trick play in overtime.
The Cyclones’ coach decided to gamble in overtime, to try and win the game with a trick play on a conversion attempt after scoring a touchdown in the first overtime period. All they had to do, having momentum and the home field advantage, was to kick the PAT and take their chance in the next overtime period against a Husker defense which they were cutting through like a hot knife through. Instead, the coach tried for a two-point conversion and failed. He failed his team, taking away a chance at victory. Had he been successful with his decision, he would have been a hero. Instead, he and his team must now deal with a painful loss.