Monday was Veteran's Day and with it came the Annual Veteran's Day Ceremony at the Illinois Veteran's Home in Quincy. For the third year in a row I was honored to be asked to be the Master of Ceremonies for this event.  Being a non-veteran and being asked to help with this event means a lot to me. Had my brother not already been fighting for our country in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia, I would be standing at that podium Monday as a veteran myself.

Oh I wanted to join the military, but I lost out to my mother's demands that one son at war was enough. She aged during that time period and understandably so. My Dad never advised me not to join, but I think he was glad I didn't.  You see, each week the nightly news would post the number of American's killed that week in Vietnam and having a son, in my Mom and Dad's case, and a brother, in my case over there was difficult for all of us at best. For those with family members in Afghanistan today, I can understand what you are going through.

As the ceremony progressed Monday we eventually got to the laying of the wreath, the moment of silence, the 21 gun salute and then the playing of taps. Taps is a song that just tugs at my heart. Standing there with my hand over my heart thinking about everyone who has served this country and those who unfortunately never made it back sends streams of emotion through me. Keeping my emotions at bay was not easy especially not being a veteran. So volunteering to help out, even in the slightest way, makes me feel better about things.

Ok, I may not be a veteran, but I am a veteran volunteer. For those of you who aren't veterans and those who appreciate your freedoms still available to us because of our veterans, I challenge you to step up and volunteer at the Illinois Veteran's Home if you get the chance. It will change you and change you for the better.  I am living proof.