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“Freedom isn’t free and people need to realize the cost,” said Retired U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Winslow Borzotra.
Borzotra said Americans need to remember daily there are men and women in the military that go out and serve and do their duty.
“It’s the least we can do to recognize veterans for the sacrifices they have made,” Borzotra said about celebrating Veterans Day.
A lot of people, he said, get Memorial Day confused with Veterans Day. Nov. 11 predominantly is a day to recognize living veterans and to show them appreciation for their service.
The Vine Grove resident and veteran served in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years and for 13 years in the U.S. Army. He was medically retired after sustaining a brain injury from an improvised explosive device while deployed to Iraq in 2005.
There are good days and some not-so-good, the 43-year-old said. Because of the injury he sustained from the explosive device, Borzotra can be struck with a debilitating seizure from out of nowhere, he said.
“Some days, I feel like I’m 43 going on 80,” he said.
For Borzotra, Veterans Day is observed two ways. He will spend part of the day at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central in Radcliff, reflecting and walking amid the graves of other veterans. Part of the day will be spent with his father, also an Army veteran, for a family cookout or dinner.
“Really, every day is Veterans Day for me,” Borzotra said.
Army veteran Kristine Speed served 10 years and now makes her residence in Elizabethtown with her two daughters.
The celebration of Veterans Day is the best way to honor those who choose military service and those who were drafted into service, Speed said.
“Not all veterans serve for 20 years or until they retire,” Speed said. “They choose to serve for various reasons and choose to leave the service for reasons that best fit their life choices.”
Many veterans, she said, have had the opportunity to experience what everyday life is like in other countries and freedom is not the same everywhere.
She recalls being stationed in South Korea for a short time.
“Taking a bus to Seoul and having to go through a heavily armed, guarded checkpoint with the South Korean military really makes one realize how lucky we are to live in a free country without fear a communist neighbor is going to invade,” Speed said.
Speed, too, will spend her Veterans Day with family and other veteran friends.
“We spend time talking about our service and enjoying each other’s company,” Speed said. “It is always interesting to hear their stories, especially our older veterans.”
Charles Ashley was drafted into service in 1944 during his junior year of high school. The 89-year-old Army veteran served 16 months in the middle Pacific. World War II came to an end and Ashley was stationed in Hawaii to serve out the rest of his Army career.
“The public just doesn’t realize what our veterans actually did for this country,” Ashley said. “They should always be referred to as ‘heroes.’”
He said so many veterans left their homes and never came back.
After getting out of the Army, Ashley worked at Fort Knox for 30 years in a civil service position.
Separation from family at one time or another during military service always is a struggle.
Master Sgt. John Hershour is in his 27th year in the Army, having served as a recruiter since 1998. He currently is stationed in El Paso, Texas, studying at the Sergeant Majors Academy.
Hershour has been there since August and will graduate in June.
While he never has been deployed overseas, Hershour said the separation struggle is very real for he and his wife, Colleen, and their two children, who live in Rineyville.
“It’s certainly a different kind of struggle,” Hershour said. “Mine is isolation.”
He said his wife deserves all the accolades for holding the household together, making sure their son and daughter get where they need to be, that they are well taken care of and the four of them are still a family unit even though he is hundreds of miles away.
Veterans Day to him is all about honoring the service and sacrifice of so many men and women who have committed acts better than themselves, been away from their families and have done the bidding of their country.
Hershour said he tries to surprise each of them as much as he can, so they know while the miles separate them for a little while longer, his heart and his thoughts always are with them in Rineyville.
Greg Thompson can be reached at 270-505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony
10:30-11:30 a.m. today
Hardin County Veterans Tribute, Elizabethtown Nature Park
on Ring Road
Guest speakers: Brig. Gen. Scott Morcomb and Elizabethtown Mayor Edna Berger