Unless you’ve been there, it’s hard to understand

Thank you, Veterans
Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 9:34 PM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - People have a hard time understanding what it means to be a veteran, unless they are a veteran. And there are stories of true life and war which are difficult to comprehend for a civilian. If you spend any time - if even only a few minutes - listening to a veteran, you will learn very quickly, just how true this is.

Veterans must come home to the land they have been brave to protect, and somehow acclimate again to a “normal” life. Many veterans who have seen war or conflict will agree that not a day goes by that they don’t think about time spent surviving war, being far from loved ones and everything they’ve known. And in days, for example, after the Vietnam War, after serving and surviving; being told to get into civilian clothes immediately so not to be recognized as a soldier.

During the time of the draft, thousands of boys turned into men in a big hurry, and they came back, changed forever, all to protect America and the rights of those who call her home. Brave men and women who fought for these freedoms are quick to call those lost in battle the real heroes, and most veterans are not looking for recognition. Many just hope Americans appreciate their freedom for the sake of the people who died and suffered for it.

And so on Veterans Day we say thank you. We say thank you to people like Henrietta Goedert Dombrowski who became a veteran for time spent in the Korean War.

We say thank you to Joe Kneifel of North Platte, too. Joe was a “River Rat.” His license plates indicate so, and he shared with News 2 the brief story of “being in charge of a 40 millimeter mount, fighting the enemy on the Brown Water (river systems and byways in southeast Asia) for four and a half years for the American Navy.” He explains that he is “deaf” even with hearing aids, “in both ears.”

A quick internet search of the details of Joe’s quick description reveals much more than he had time to share. This man, as a “River Rat,” was “tough as nails,” a United States Navy sailor, fighting the Vietcong and North Vietnam Army up and down the Mekong River and all its tributaries. Manning machine guns “in search of the enemy, fighting ambushes on both sides of the river," Joe is - whether he agrees or not - a hero, and America owes he and others like him a debt of gratitude.

When asked what Veterans Day means to Joe, he shared that it feels good to hear the thank you’s. When describing himself he said, “Well I come from a long line of military veterans, and I don’t know how to describe it; it’s in your blood.”

American should thank Chuck Lynch of North Platte, too. He too shared with News 2 that not a day goes by he doesn’t remember being in Vietnam. He served in the Highlands, A Shau Valley, Laos, and Cambodia from 1969-1970.

It is one plus one plus one, adding all the way up to thousands of men and women with bittersweet, terrifying, and loving memories and stories of war, loss, and coming home - or not coming home. Today is set aside to say “thank you,” but you can listen or say thank you to a veteran any day. They might not have much to say unless you really listen, but they will appreciate the sentiment.

To all of those who have served, and to those who continue to serve, Happy Veterans Day.

And Thank You.

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