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Sun., Apr. 19
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Beyond the call

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The individuals who once wore our nation’s military uniform are once again giving of themselves to help others.

A story in Monday’s issue of the Watertown Daily Times highlighted several veterans who donate their time for programs benefitting military personnel and their fellow veterans. It’s heartening to reflect on their continued devotion to serving others.

George A. Barton, who was in the U.S. Air Force, and Robert C. Kip, who served in the U.S. Army, are volunteers for the USO facility at Fort Drum. They have been doing this for about three years.

Francis J. Murray, an Army veteran, coordinates transportation for the Watertown-area Disabled American Veterans. He’s been helping out this group since 2010.

Gregory J. Pluhar was stationed at Fort Drum while in the Army, retiring in 2008. He has been a member of the Patriot Guard Riders since 2010.

So what do these men have to say about their service?

“I’ve had more than one guy, you shake his hand, next thing you know he’s got you in a bear hug and you’re going ‘Great, great, welcome home,’” said Mr. Barton, who often greets returning soldiers at Fort Drum with his wife, Alice.

“You stand out there at midnight, four o’clock in the morning, or three o’clock in the afternoon,” Mr. Kip said. “Five hundred people have walked up to you and said ‘Thank you for being here.’ You just have no idea what that’s like.”

“It’s a real special time for these guys in the van,” Mr. Murray said. “It’s history you see from their eyes. You’ll never see in a book what they’re telling you.”

Monday was Veterans Day, a time we honor those who have defended our nation through their military service. And yet these veterans have chosen to make it about people other than themselves. It’s this spirit of sacrifice that has provided the United States with the finest military in human history, and it’s this dedication to their comrades in arms that makes these individuals unique.

What’s in it for them?

“I would want it done for me,” Mr. Pluhar said. “I want it done for everyone.”

They set an example we should all follow.

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