Jason Hommes | Staff Writer
eterans’ Day is a day set aside to honor America’s veterans, but unlike other holidays like Thanksgiving, Veterans’ Day always has a set date — Nov. 11. Veterans’ Day is observed on Nov. 11 every year for a very particular reason.
“Veterans’ Day originated after World War I (as Armistice Day) because they thought that was the war to end all wars, and obviously that wasn’t the case,” said Jared Ageson, an Iraqi War veteran who currently works as the director of the Lyon County Veterans Affairs office.
Armistice Day marked the end of the hostilities of World War I, which occurred at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. This is why Veterans’ Day is always observed on Nov. 11, regardless of the day of the week the 11th falls on.
There are many veterans in Lyon County. Some of them were members of the military for only a short time, while others spent many long years in the service. Some veterans were in the Army National Guard or Air National Guard and were fortunate enough to not be sent to war in a hostile environment, while other veterans were on the frontlines in terrifying battles far away. No matter the case, all veterans deserve citizes’ respect and support.
“I think Veterans’ Day is unique because it gives us time to honor the survivors,” said Ageson. “They might be people who live next door to you or people you see in the grocery store. A lot of times you might not even know who the veterans are. But our country deemed it important to make sure that these men and women are recognized and I think that, as a country, we do a very good job of recognizing our veterans.”
Ageson praised the many organizations and businesses that recognize veterans in their service. He said he also believes that society understands the significance of Veterans’ Day the best it can, even despite the obvious disconnect between veterans and everyday citizens who haven’t been in the military. “There’s absolutely no way you can recreate that experience in a movie,” he said. “But I do think people in general do a pretty good job when it comes to recognizing our veterans, even if they can’t relate to the experience themselves.”
Ageson served in the Army National Guard 16 years and served in the Iraqi War from April 2003-April 2004. Now he spends his time assisting other veterans. Any veterans who have questions for him can contact Lyon County Veterans Affairs at 712-472-3405.
“Veterans Day is about pulling together with my fellow veterans and people I served with, and we go have breakfast or lunch together, and the company and the special bond I share with those individuals is what’s most important about Veterans’ Day to me,” added Ageson.
Laureen Schram is another Lyon County veteran. Unlike Ageson, Schram is not a combat veteran, but she still has a story to tell. “My reasoning for going in is probably different than most,” she said. “I didn’t get drafted, obviously. I went in because my dad was a World War II veteran and I grew up with all of that. It was very much a part of my upbringing.”
Schram teaches fourth grade at Central Lyon and she believes it’s good that her students know their teacher was in the military. “Most of them know that I was in the military, and they ask a lot of questions about it,” she said. “Their Weekly Reader the other day focused on a family where the mom and dad were both in the army and it focused on what their kids had to do after their parents got deployed, so I thought that was a very good topic for the kids and we talked about that. I told them I was deployed but at that time I was single with no husband and no children so it was a different situation for me.”
Schram served in the Air National Guard for four years beginning in 1978. Although she did not go to war herself, she said it was still a very scary time, but she also said she learned a lot from her experience.
“I went to San Antonio and did my basic training and I went on a couple deployments but all were stateside. I was out at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho a couple times.”
She added that she was the first woman to work on the “flight line” when she was based in Sioux Falls, which she said was really interesting. “I remember that very vividly. There weren’t a lot of women in the service and I was the first one in my area. I worked on the A7 fighter planes they used at that time. I was a munitions loader and our job was to load those planes with munitions, which they then flew to other states to do training missions.”
Like all veterans, Schram said Veterans’ Day is deeply important to her. “I did not go to war, but there are so many people even just in Rock Rapids and the surrounding area who did go to war, especially Vietnam, and they’re the ones who should be getting recognition.”
Ageson has the honor to work with fellow veterans almost every day at his job, so he’s able to see how veterans are continually being recognized. “We continue to make improvements for veterans. I see that on a daily basis at my job. Laws are continuing to be changed and new facilities are going up, and there’s an understanding that veterans need to be treated with respect.”
Honor and Recognition
Jason Hommes | Staff Writer