Jacksonville paid tribute to its veterans this morning indoors despite the inclement weather. At the standard hour of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, members from all branches of the military along with several local dignitaries paid homage to the sacrifices of the living and the killed in action at the Amvets Post on Court Street. The crowd heard from former US Army and Army Reservist Laura Doss who spoke about what it means to be a veteran. “Throughout my life, I’ve thought about what it means to be a veteran and have realized that my definition is fluid. As I’ve gotten older and I really want to say wiser, I’ve discovered at how I would have defined this as an 18 year old is not the same as what I would say it means now.”
Doss went on to list several poignant things in her life that have help create her definition of being a veteran and how it has changed since her enlistment in 1989. “Being a veteran means learning what to do if you have to get into a physical fight and discovering that someone who looks like a 90-pound weakling can actually win in that kind of situation. Being a veteran means writing your will and last wishes the night of your 19th birthday just in case. Being a veteran means trying to always use hearing protection in a training environment but almost never wearing it in real life situations so now there are times when it is completely difficult to hear and understand. Being a veteran means that knowing there are times that your situation is so lousy is that if you let yourself feel it once, you won’t stop feeling that sadness and that anger, so you laugh and make rude gestures instead. Being a veteran means that when there are times that you can’t avoid that pit, there are others there to help pull you out. Being a veteran means you can hear your heart breaking as you have to kiss your babies good-bye because duty calls.”
Doss also talked about how she met her husband while she was in the military officer twenty six years ago. Doss is currently employed at MacMurray College. After the salute to the fallen by the Amvets color guard, the 70+ people in attendance enjoyed a ham & beans meal from the local Amvets Auxillary.