On Thursday I attended the annual meeting of the Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO), where Medal of Honor recipient Col. (U.S.A. Ret.) Jack Jacobs was interviewed by Robert Jerome from the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.
It's not every day you get to meet a Medal of Honor recipient so I felt very privileged to be there.
Jacobs touched on some of his experiences and what it was like to receive the medal. Everyone who attended that evening got a little more insight into what it's like as a member of the United States military.
Of course, any of us who have never served will never truly understand what these men and women go through, but through hearing their stories we can learn something more.
Along with interviewing Jacobs, there were some videos shown about the history of the Medal of Honor as well as other recipients of the medal. It didn't take long for a lot of people to get emotional, including myself.
Partly because of how I was raised and mostly for having relatives who are veterans (as well as some friends who either recently joined or are getting ready to finish up), I have always been interested in hearing the stories they have to share. I may not always get to hear them, but whenever I have a chance to, I'm right there paying good attention.
My grandfather and veteran of World War II, George Waters Sr., told me that he's glad to see I'm interested in hearing these stories to take with me. He feels that not many people in my generation want to take the time to listen.
This reminds of something that was talked about at Thursday night's event. It's the character development program, which is a curriculum about six principles- courage, commitment, citizenship, integrity, patriotism and selfless sacrifice and service. The program was started in Pennsylvania.
Jacobs talked about how important it is to pass along these stories and experiences.
"It would be a waste if the experiences and teachings of those experiences were lost," he said. "Once gone, it's gone forever and you can't get it back. It's important to keep children viewing these values because without them we are all lost. The program has turned out to be a tremendous success. It's astonishing what impact the curriculum can have on kids. If we don't make sure they know it, their children won't know it either."
To date, 3,461 people have received the Medal of Honor. Out of those there are only 80 living recipients left.
It is a fact like this that makes it more imperative to learn about what our military men and women go through when they are defending us, our freedom and our country. Veterans from WWI, WWII, Vietnam and the Korean wars (among others) are dying off. There are only so many opportunities to hear from them.
Page 2 of 2 - If you know anyone who is a veteran or meet one on the street, take the time to listen to their stories. It will help you understand what they are doing for us and you will have a little more knowledge. Plus, you'll feel great you did.
Never forget those who have fallen, veterans who are still alive and those who are currently active. Keep their experiences alive by listening and passing them along to the next generation.
Thank you to all who have served or are actively serving.
Waters is a staff writer for The Wayne Independent and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org