An audience of youths and adults, veterans who served in times of peace and times of war, gathered to observe Veterans Day Tuesday morning in Elgin.
There were few empty seats at Elgin High School gymnasium for the program. Students from all three schools in the community participated in the event either through the spoken word or in music during the nearly hour-long program.
Those veterans in attendance who served during times of war or other armed conflict were recognized by a standing ovation. Giving the Veterans Day Address was Garrett Dwyer. A 2004 graduate of Pope John, Dwyer joined the United State Marine Corps and served four years as an infantryman including a combat tour in Ramadi, Iraq in 2006-2007.
After returning home, he attended NCTA in Curtis, graduating with a degree in agriculture production. He said, “Seventeen percent of the US population lives in rural America and of that number, 40 percent of the people who serve in the military come from rural America. So, almost half of our military comes from small town America.”
He then spoke of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) and its efforts to assist veterans after returning home. The mission of FVC is not just to have veterans grow food, but to mobilize veterans to feed America. “The FVC strives to cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders, and develop viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities,” he said.
In closing, Dwyer shared what it means to be a veteran farmer, or in his case, a veteran rancher.
“Those who have served in the military and those who have specifically served in combat know the friendship and camaraderie that develops. Even though it is a short time in your life, it can seem like eternity as you experience it. It’s hard to keep the morale up at times, it is hard to stay motivated and worse yet to become complacent. In the agriculture world it is very easy to get into a rut and to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. That is the definition of insanity.
For the complete story, see the print edition of The Elgin Review