Minnesota Wire has been holding a Veterans Day Barbecue for 12 years.
Organizers say the event is the least they can do to honor our nation’s military. Veterans, like United States Marine Steve Coach, say they are proud to have served, no matter what their mission was.
“You can do a lot of things for your country, but putting your life on the line is the ultimate sacrifice,” said Coach.
Dozens of veterans and their families braved the cold weather to support our service men and women. Brian Wagner is part owner of Minnesota Wire and said the event is the least they could do for veterans.
“I think it’s important because people that served need to be honored,” said Wagner. “Not everyone did, there are some of the wars where people came back and were not treated as well as they should’ve been, with the Vietnam War being the worst.
The event featured speeches by two Minnesota Wire employees who were veterans.
One of those speakers, Sgt. Victor Wells, shared what his time in the military taught him.
“The biggest mountain you have to climb is right between your ears,” Wells said.
For the veterans, it is a day of reflection.
“It’s a source of pride for me; very proud to serve; very proud,” said Navy veteran Richard Freitag. “Especially now as a Vietnam veteran, I can talk about it. The first 15 years after we got home we couldn’t talk about.”
To some, these veterans are defined as heroes. But they have a different definition of what a hero is to them.
“A hero is one who gives of himself and in many cases paid the ultimate price,” Freitag said. “I know a number of them.”
Army veteran Dan Ziegler said a hero is someone who left a situation better than they found it.
“It’s someone who was in a place maybe he wasn’t or she wasn’t expecting to be and ended up making it better for someone else,” said Ziegler.
Most importantly, it’s putting themselves on the line for their country.
Kaye Olson is the Wisconsin State President of Gold Star Mothers and a 26-year veteran. For her, she said her commitment was for life.
“When I raised my hand and said my oath, it’s an opened ended contract. If they asked me tomorrow or today, I would sign on the dotted line and go,” said Olson.
The proceeds from Monday’s event will go to the Chippewa Falls Veterans Assistance Center and the Trinity Equestrian Center.