Thank you for your service

Richard Stroner, commander of American Legion Post 191 in Webster City addresses the Webster City High School audience on Veterans Day.

Editor’s note: Richard Stroner, American Legion Post 191 commander, addressed the audience at Webster City schools on Veterans Day. This is the text of the speech he delivered at Webster City High School.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Students, Staff, and Veterans,

Welcome to today’s ceremony and thank you for attending. My name is Richard Stroner, I am the Webster City American Legion Commander, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. military, and I am honored to be speaking with you today on this special occasion. We are here today to honor our service members, to remember the sacrifices they made, and the courage it took to defend this country.

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, the fighting of World War I ended in 1918.

At the end of World War I, which was deemed “the war to end all wars,” November 11th became a day of celebration and was named Armistice Day to honor the veterans of that war.

In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, November 11th was renamed Veterans Day to honor all veterans who served America and defended democracy.

So today we honor all our veterans, whether they have served, or are currently serving in the military, the reserves, or the national guard. They were willing to defend our freedoms with their lives if necessary.

Those men and women were ordinary people who responded to our nation’s call — in peace and war times. They left their families, their homes, and their lives, not to be honored for their deeds or the fame of their accomplishments. They served and fought to protect our country and to maintain our way of life. They rose to the nation’s call because they wanted to protect a nation which has given them and us so much. Our freedoms that we enjoy and take for granted today are a result of the sacrifices that veterans have made and continue to make for this country.

People ask me what it means to have served in the military and to be a veteran and after thinking about my answer is…

Serving in the military changed my life. After high school I went to college to become a fisheries biologist and after a year and half my grades were bad and I left school. The year was 1969 and I knew that I could get drafted and I decided to enlist. My father, who was a World War II veteran, advised me to join a military branch that offered me a chance to get as much education as I could get.

I ended up choosing the Air Force. After my aptitude tests were finished, they offered me a chance to go into the electrical field and that was the start of my career. I spent 16 months in electrical schools during the first seven years of service and was stationed in Mississippi, Montana, Michigan, The Philippines, Labrador, Canada; and Florida.

I had a top-secret clearance and some of the things we did were not declassified until 1998.

I was offered the chance to work on a CIA site in a foreign country, and work on the Presidents Communications Team. During this time, I used the educational opportunities that were offered to finish my first degree and then used my GI bill benefits to get my second one.

The next 18 years of my military career were spent in the Air Force Reserve, the Army Reserve, and the Iowa Army National Guard.

During that time, I worked in a psychological operations battalion and we developed ways to influence people using radio, TV and print media. During that time I also had the opportunity to work on the equipment for Radio Free Europe.

We were the Facebook and Twitter of the 1980s.

During the floods of 1993 while in the National Guard I had the honor to help fellow Iowans, providing them with drinking water and repairing state facilities electrical flood issues from Des Moines to Burlington.

My military career made me mature as a person, realize my potential, and molded me into who I am today.

Being a veteran made me appreciate the honor that it has been to serve this country. A veteran understands that when they raise their hand and swear to support and defend this nation that they could be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms.

To all my military brothers and sisters, for your display of courage, fortitude and commitment to our country, I want to extend a warm thank you. God bless you and your families, and God bless America.


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