Remembering those who made freedom possible

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Jesse Hicks looks at the names on the Memorial Wall at the High Plains Cultural Center. (Photo by Bryan Gallegos)

By Bryan Gallegos

Dunn County Herald

Kevin Sandoval is a former marine whose intimidating  presence casts a wide shadow. But the 6-foot-4 oil-rig worker was brought to tears at a Dickinson restaurant Monday night by a petite 6-year-old with curly red hair.

The little boy sat in a booth across from Sandoval. He noticed Sandoval was wearing a black t-shirt with a Marine Corps emblem.

He recognized the symbol. His uncle is in the marines, and he has “lots of them kind of shirts.” Without any prodding from his parents and with their full approval, the boy walked over to Sandoval and stuck his hand out.

Taking a sip of his iced tea, Sandoval looked at the tiny hand in front of his face. The boy’s blue eyes sparkled as he smiled and said, “I know what you are. You’re like my uncle. He has lots of them kind of shirts.”

Sandoval smiled.

“You guys do good,” the boy said, still waiting for a shake from the bearded bear-like man eating a chef salad.

For a second, Sandoval wanted to hug that boy and never let go. Those words from an innocent child left him with a warm glow inside.

He carefully took the tiny hand into his own, the boy’s sincerity took Sandoval to a better place.

With his other hand, the boy reached into his pocket and gave Sandoval a smooth stone. The boy had picked up the stone from a “special place” in the back yard of his family’s Dickinson home.

“You can have this. It’s good luck,” the boy said.

A tear trickled down Sandoval’s face. And he didn’t care who saw it.

Sandoval held the rock as if it was a precious gem as he watched as the boy return to his booth. He shook his head, not really believing the courage the boy had showed and his sincere gesture and appreciation.

“That’s the dangest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I’ve never been thanked like that before.”

That’s’ what Veterans Day is all about. Veterans Day is observed every year on Nov. 11 and is intended to thank all of those who honorably served in the military – in war time or peace time.

The American Legion Post 46 will be hosting an “11-11-11” moment-of-silence ceremony at 11 a.m. today at the American Legion Hall in Killdeer. The ceremony is free to the public and will feature the Killdeer Community Band, guest speakers and presentation of the flag.

The ceremony is one of many throughout the country to recognize the end of hostilities ceased on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. in 1918. It happened in the 11th hours of the 11th day of the 11th month.

“It’s a time where a guy can remember everybody who served,” said Tex Appledorn, a member of the American Legion Post 46.

Veterans Day is often confused with Memorial Day, which is recognized in May. Memorial Day is for remembering and honoring military personnel who have died in the service of their country.

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day in Nov. 11, 1919 – the first anniversary of the end of World War I. It was later declared a legal holiday in 1938. It was originally designed to honor veterans of World War.

On Nov. 11, 1947, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks organized a “National Veterans Day” parade in Birmingham, Ala., to recognize veterans of all wars.

President Dwight Eisenhower, himself a veteran, officially changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954.

There are about 23.2 million military veterans in the United States.

And at least one of them is carrying a special stone with him, thanks to a little boy in a restaurant.


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