Honoring the heroes among us
It is hard to believe that it has been 13 years since the United States experienced the largest foreign attack on American soil. Like all of you, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the tragic news.
My wife Kim and I had just gotten home from a trip to Scotland on Sept. 10th. The next day, I went to my Tuesday morning Kiwanis meeting, as I did every week, and that is where I watched the heart-wrenching footage of what was unfolding in New York City and Washington D.C. I could not believe that just one day before, Kim and I had come through Boston Logan Airport, where American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 departed from that fateful morning.
While we did not allow a cowardly act of terrorism to shake our resolve, it was undoubtedly a day which changed us all, forever. I think many of us realized that in that moment, we needed to ensure that justice was done and that those who were responsible were held accountable for their actions. Across the nation, many young men and women selflessly volunteered to ensure those responsible were brought to justice, and I want to thank those military members as well as anyone who served for their dedication to protecting this great country.
Last year, a new nonprofit organization was founded to honor Hoosier veterans and educate others on their outstanding achievements. Since the founding of our nation, thousands of men and women have served this country with distinction, during both times of war and times of peace. To recognize these brave heroes, the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame (IMVHOF) will soon induct its very first class of honorees on Veteran’s Day.
At what will now become an annual banquet, 15 inductees will receive the prestigious Hall of Fame Medallion of Honor. In order to be considered, a veteran must have been born in Indiana, entered military service from Indiana or have lived in Indiana for at least eight years. Nominees must also have an honorable discharge from their military service and have no felony convictions.
If you know someone you would like to see recognized, either living or deceased, there is still a short time to make a nomination. A nomination packet must be completed and received by Sept. 30 and can be found online at www.imvhof.com.
Unfortunately, our community is no stranger to fallen heroes. In 2006, Corporal Eric Leuken of Dubois selflessly gave his life for his country during a combat operation in Iraq. Eric was just 23 years old and planned to marry his girlfriend when he returned. Just six years later, Cpl. Alec Terwiske, also of Dubois, was also killed while serving in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was just 21 years old.
It is imperative that we keep the memories of these young Hoosiers alive as they truly sacrificed everything to defend America’s borders and protect our way of life. I am proud to see Indiana taking the initiative to recognize those who have worn and continue to wear the uniform.
As we reach the anniversary of 9/11, I urge you all to take pause not only to remember our men and women in uniform, who continue to fight for our freedom, but also to simply be thankful for the ideals of this country that we were born into. Today and every day, may God continue to bless America and her veterans.