The freedoms all Americans enjoy are protected by the 1 percent of the population which is in the military, according to an airman who has gone to the Middle East three times.
''We are allowed to take advantage of our freedoms because of that 1 percent,'' said Tech. Sgt. Michael Kreft, a member of the Fort Dodge-based 133rd Test Squadron of the Iowa Air National Guard.
Kreft was the keynote speaker at the annual Veterans Day observance held at St. Edmond High School, 501 N. 22nd St. He addressed about 130 people at the ceremony.
Program at St. Edmond for Veterans Day
Kreft, who grew up on a farm near Lytton, described the bravery of a childhood friend, Clay Garcia. He said Garcia enlisted in the Navy and became a hospital corpsman. During the fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, Garcia ran across 100 yards of open field under enemy fire to rescue a wounded Marine, according to Kreft. Garcia, who grew up in Lytton, received the Bronze Star with V for Valor for that action, he said.
The airman, who works behind the lines with data links that enable American and allied forces to share information, said the courage of Garcia and other troops on the ground motivates him to do his best to help them.
''When our counterparts on the ground need support, it's our responsibility to get that power overhead as quickly as possible,'' Kreft said.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
World War II Navy veteran Ray Ault, of Fort Dodge, watches as members of the Iowa Air National Guard 133rd Test Squadron prepare the ceremonial Missing in Action/Prisoner of War table during Veterans Day ceremonies at St. Edmond High School Thursday. Ault served in the Pacific and Atlantic.
The ceremony featured performances by the St. Edmond Middle School band and the high school's vocal music department. St. Edmond senior Theresa Birzer explained how Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I, evolved into Veterans Day.
Troops that were taken prisoner or are missing in action were remembered with a symbolic dinner table set in their honor by members of the 133rd Test Squadron.
The table ''symbolizes that they are still with us in spirit,'' said Maj. Justin Faiferlick, the squadron member who was the master of ceremonies.
The ceremony at the school concluded with the playing of Taps and a rifle salute by the color guard from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1856 in Fort Dodge.
Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org