Hastings honors our nation's veterans

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Updated: Tue, 12 Nov 2013 10:23:25 CST

Whether it's your mother, father, brother, sister, family, or friend, each of us knows someone who has served our country.  Monday, across the Tri-Cities, Central Nebraskans were honoring our veterans.

"They didn't spend months or years half a world away from everything they loved because it was something they wanted for themselves. They did it for us," said Duane Norris, Master of Ceremonies for Hastings' Veterans Day Service. 

And that's why, every year on November 11th, we say two simple words. Thank you.

"This is the greatest country in the world and our veterans have provided that for us," said Chris Long, Adams County Veterans Service Officer. 

It's a day for Americans to give thanks.  And it's a day for the men and women who have served our country to share their memories-- both the good and the bad.

"After we made the landing on Omaha Beach, we were gassed by outfits," said Raymond Rutt, a WWII Army Veteran. 

"Just the comradery, the brotherhood, the fellowship," said Robert Summers, a Navy and National Guard Veteran. 

They say sharing those memories across the years helps to heal their wounds.  And it's the thank you's that heal their hearts.

"It kind of puts a warm feeling in your heart," said Ernest Johnson, a Vietnam Army Veteran and recipient of 3 purple hearts. 

But some still say, one day is not enough.

"We need to recognize them more than just once a year. Anytime you see a veteran, go up and talk to them. It means a lot to them and their families," said Karen Johnson, Ernest's wife of 42 years. 

All gave some and some gave all.  On Veterans Day, it's also the men and women who have served who are giving thanks.

"Thank you to the WWII Veteran, the Korea War Veteran, the Vietnam War Veteran, the Cold War Veteran and the Gulf War Veteran. Without you, I would not be alive today," said Ryan Kaufman, an Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom Army Veteran. 

The Veterans Day celebrations in Hastings continued Monday at 7 with Hawthorne Elementary's Veterans Day concert at Hastings High.