Every veteran has a story.

Some filled with subjects that can never really and completely be talked about, others filled with some of the most hilarious subjects that keep you laughing. Many stories are centered only on wartime service, others deal with the trials and tribulations of military service. The fact is though a lot of stories are being told, for it is estimated that in the U.S. the number of men and women that have served in the military from our Revolutionary War in 1775 through our present occupations in 2019 number between 40 to 50 million people. Yes, and a lot of untold stories that can never be told, for those that never made it home, who “gave all” to this great country and our freedoms, those number over 1,700,000.

How very important is it then, that we take the time, the effort and the desire to spend hearing, learning and understanding the experiences of those men and women who chose to support our values and freedoms by making the choice to serve our great country. They indeed have much to say in sharing their reasons not only for serving our country, but for how their service has altered or changed their lives.

Yes, their reflections bridge the gap between hilarious and those plagued with physical and mental wounds. We can learn a lot by just caring enough to listen and learn. And maybe then if we are moved enough, we might actually take action to assist those that truly need our voice and our help to regain a normalcy and a life in our communities.

For those whose voices that will never again be heard, I list here the history of some of the actions and names of our Oregon fallen heroes.

Since the 1840s there have been approximately over 6,000 Oregonians that have died fighting for our nation. During the Civil War period, Oregon mustered about 1,800 troops, and of those troops 46 were recorded as killed in action. During WWI, 968 Oregonians died including a pair of brothers, George and William Fallin both KIA in 1918. The National Archives show that between 1939 and 1945 during WWII, that there were 3,757 Oregonians who died of their wounds, died in POW camps, were missing or died in non-combat causes. From 1950 to 1957 during the Korean War, 269 Oregonians died in that conflict, some still missing. Maj. Felix Asla Jr., USAF, from La Grande and Cpl. Dwayne W. Barton, US Army from Wasco County, both remain missing.

The Vietnam War 1957 to 1975 there were 709 Oregonians that died in that conflict. Just about every town in Oregon had someone KIA. From Ontario: SGT Frank Mathews, 20; SP4 Ted Sharp, 20; PFC Felipe Villanueva, 22; SP4 Joseph Whitaker, Jr. 20 and others. From Vale: PFC Delos Buxton, 23; CAPT Derald Swift, 29. From Arock: PFC Kelly Davis, 19. From Harper: SGT Gary Friend, 20. From Huntington: CAPT Charles Moore, 37.

Yes, those stories will never fully be told: though their families and relatives generally keep their memories alive by sharing their pride of their service to our country.

Veterans Day reminds us that it is important to hear and listen to the stories our veterans have to tell, and it gives us as a community a chance to honor those that have served and that continue to serve our well-being.

Tomorrow, Veterans Day, there will be lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for veterans at the Veterans Advocates of Ore-Ida. Later, a film titled “Homemade” will show at the Reel Theatre at 7 p.m. This is a documentary about the reintegration of a soldier back into civilian life and his battles. After the showing a panel discussion takes place.

Then on Nov. 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. join us at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, 180 W. Idaho Ave, Ontario, in Honoring Jerry Haines for his National Volunteer award from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: presented by Major General Garshak- The Adjutant General, Brig. General Schwartz and Chief Master Sergeant Bongiovi. Jerry will also receive the Spirit of Freedom award from Senator Crapo’s office.

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.” — John Stuart Mill, 1806 to 1873, Philosopher, Economist

Ronald Verini is a local veterans advocate who writes a weekly column for The Argus Observer. He can be contacted at (541) 889-1978, help@veteranadvocates.org or 180 W. Idaho Ave., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The Argus Observer.

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