Student seeks new respect for veterans

Concerned that his fellow students needed to know more about World War II and the bravery and sacrifices of ‘The Greatest Generation,’ Mount Madonna senior Cyrus Kamkar recently organized a veterans panel held at his private school. He expanded the panel to include veterans of several wars.

I feel that respect for our veterans in today’s culture is lacking, unfortunately, especially among my age group.

My goal with this project was to spread the awareness of the importance of soldiers’ sacrifices. When people talk about how horrible Hitler was, they forget to mention that he could have won. If it weren’t for the United States and its brave soldiers, the world would be a very different place. What I am doing is not a message of pro war, if anything, it is anti-war. The further away we get from remembering these incidents in history, the closer we are to war and losing freedom. This can’t be thought of as something that happened a long time ago. War is relevant.

I am very grateful for the veterans who participated in the panel at Mount Madonna: JP (Navy, WWII), Al Hopson (Air Force, WWII), David Perez (Army medic, WWII) Rick Noble (Army, long-range reconnaissance patrol, Vietnam), Gary (Army, Vietnam) Mike Baker (Army, Vietnam), and Dean Kaufman (Army, Gulf War).

I have a deep interest in our nation’s veterans, and feel that it is very important to remember their sacrifices. Every step we take in a free society, every movement, every breath was fought for and made possible by our veterans. Every freedom we have has been fought, bled and died for. The will to protect and preserve the ideas that shape us as Americans must continue to live on and be a shining example for the whole world to see. We are a unique country that was formed off a reaction to oppressive government rule, and we have successfully been consistent with those values by being the strongest enemy of tyranny and biggest preserver of freedom around the world.

There is nothing that could sadden me more than to see our country become alienated from these unique and integral values. War must be avoided at all costs, but we should always be the first to sacrifice when it’s needed to ensure freedom. This is why it is important to not just respect our veterans, but to show them that you respect them. A WW II veteran once told me: “We aren’t called the greatest generation because of what we did. We were the greatest generation because of who we were. We could not have done what we did if it weren’t for our values and patriotism. And always remember this, Cyrus, we didn’t fight for us, we fought for you.” I will always remember that.

There is a quote that was found in a dead U.S. soldier’s diary on the battlefield from WW I that always gives me the chills: “America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

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