By Angela Peacock
On Tuesday, people from around the nation will gather to pay tribute to the men and women who have fought to keep America free.
Veteran’s Day is about respect, and former enlisted U.S. Navy soldier Steve Hensley doesn’t feel Americans understand the true meaning of the holiday.
“People don’t give the veterans in this country near enough respect,” Hensley said. “You don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone because when you enter the military you lose some of your constitutional freedoms because you go and do what they say when they say it.”
Serving shore and ship commands during the Bush administration, Hensley actually saw the front lines of war, which he said gave him a greater appreciation for life.
“Life is short so live everyday likes it’s your last because you never know when your number is up,” Hensley said.
Aside from people not showing enough respect for veterans, Hensley said Americans don’t give proper respect to the flag or national anthem.
“Show some respect for the flag and national anthem. I can’t stand how people talk or let their children run around at ball games during the national anthem,” Hensley said. “In other countries if you move during their anthem or dared to burn their flag they just kill you.”
Agreeing with Hensley that there isn’t enough pride for American veterans Mucio Lopez, quarter master for Veteran of Foreign War Post 2528, said the country needs to provide more support for the families of military personnel especially those who are currently dealing with loved ones overseas.
“We need more support groups for families and dependents especially those in rural areas like Tucumcari,” said Lopez, retired Sergeant 1st Class for the U.S. Army. “In order to get the assistance they need most people in areas like here have to travel long distance to find support groups.”
Lopez said serving time in Vietnam taught him some important life lessons that he wants everyone to pass onto their children.
“Serving in the U.S. Army taught me to respect people of all races, cultures and their customs,” Lopez said. “It also taught me how to work those people and America needs to teach its youth why it’s important to support our country and why it’s been such a powerful country for so many years.”
Flying supplies into a war zone during the Vietnam War Oracio “Rusky” Encinias also knows how important Veterans Day is for those who’ve fought those who have served in the armed forces. Though he doesn’t completely agree with Hensley and Lopez that America doesn’t show enough respect for Veteran’s Day, he does believe veterans receive more attention during war than during peace time.
Encinias has flown across the world and seen various cultures and lifestyles, which he said has made him value his freedoms much more.
“Having traveled the four corners of the earth and seeing everything from mass poverty, different cultures and the most famous people has shown me how good we have it here in America,” Encinias said. “There’s no place like home.”