Our veterans have served with honor and integrity to protect our nation’s values at home and across the globe. They serve with no guarantees of accolades, grand achievements, or even a guarantee that they will return home safely. They are aware of all the risks, but they serve our country anyway.
On Veterans Day, I am reminded of a veteran I have had the pleasure of knowing for many years. SPC5 Ole Monicken JR was born in 1949 in Baldwin, Wisconsin. He was drafted at the young age of 19 and was deployed to South Vietnam where he served for 11 months. In July of 1970, Ole was escorting his Captain on a route perimeter mission when they encountered an anti-tank mine. The mine exploded, but thankfully both his Captain and Ole escaped with their lives though they suffered severe wounds. I was honored to join Ole, his family, and Senator Tammy Baldwin a few months ago to finally award him with the Purple Heart he had so rightfully earned all those years ago.
Ole grew up just like so many of us. Yet when he was called to service, he stepped up to serve. There are thousands of veterans around this state and this country that were called to extraordinary service from ordinary circumstances, just like Ole. They were called to join a brotherhood and sisterhood of honor.
I’m a proud Mom of two members of that brotherhood. My son Travis is a veteran of the Naval Forces while my son Dylan is active-duty. I’ve watched their commitment and dedication over many years. Their sacrifices are humbling. Like those made by Dylan, who has not been able to live with his wife and his young son all the while he has served.
We often take our time with loved ones, our safe communities, and other liberties for granted. Those freedoms are supported on the backs of so few. Less than one percent of Americans serve in the military, and they do it for all of us. The time lost between Dylan and his son, or Ole and his family while he was overseas, can never be replaced but it is through their service that the rest of us can be free.
That is the lesson of Veterans Day. No matter which branch, what job, or how many years of service, our veterans, active-duty, guardsman, and reservists are the ones that keep our country safe. The time spent away from family and the risks taken by our service-members every day are some of the costs they bear. Our freedom isn’t free.
So on Veterans Day, reflect on the service of those that came before us as well as those that are standing guard all across the globe. Remember our heroes.
State Senator Patty Schachtner proudly represents Wisconsin’s tenth senate district with 178,250 constituents. The district covers parts of Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.