Bowden: Veterans love their country enough to die for it

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Air Force Reserve Col. Ben Bowden was the keynote speaker at AJHS’s annual Veterans Day program.

Air Force Reserve Col. Ben Bowden was the keynote speaker at AJHS’s annual Veterans Day program.

Patrick Henry’s famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death,” is the same sentiment soldiers have when they sign a blank check to the United States.

Air Force Reserve Col. Ben Bowden was the guest speaker at the 29th annual Andalusia Junior High School Veterans Day program.

Bowden talked to students and the crowd gathered about what a veteran is.

“A veteran is someone who joined the military and agreed to put their life on the line,” he said.

Bowden said a veteran is someone who loves their country so much they are willing to die for it.

He reminded students that their freedoms are gifts from veterans.

“You don’t really notice until it’s gone,” he said. “This gathering here today is a freedom. Many people in this world don’t enjoy it.”

Bowden went on to share stories of valor from the Korean Conflict, his time in Iraq and the story of the Alamo.

He shared a story of a Marine, whose job was to ensure the men had ammo. If more ammo was needed or someone was wounded or injured, the Marine would go down the mountain and carry the wounded or fetch more ammo.

On one particular day, the Marine made 51 trips and was wounded twice.

Bowden recalled when he was deployed to Balad Air Force Base in Iraq in 2008.

“No one was allowed to leave the base unless authorized,” he said.

Bowden recalled that there was a fence around the perimeter of the Iraqi base and that it often looked desolate on the other side.

“One day I was on my side of the fence and I saw a man and a young boy,” he said. “I waved and the boy waved back.”

Bowden said a simple gesture made him feel more connected to the mission because real people wanted freedom.

Bowden also talked about the courageous effort of William Travis to fight for Texas’ independence at the Alamo.

Even though Travis and others lost their lives, it bought time for the American Army and Sam Houston get set and defeat the Mexican Army and gain independence for Texas.

Bowden encouraged the crowd gathered to think of why they are free today.

“It’s because of a veteran,” he said. “Thank a veteran.”

The AJHS band performed an array of patriotic tunes; the AJHS chorus held a sing-along of familiar patriotic tunes; five students read their essays on why veterans are honored; and Ella Kate Nichols sang “God Bless America.”