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Ask a veteran to tell you a story

This Veterans Day many people across our nation will proudly fly the Stars and Stripes outside their homes and on majestic poles in front of businesses and federal buildings. We do this to honor our military veterans who served in the Armed Forces at home and abroad.

As a Navy veteran myself, I am both humbled and grateful for such a public showing of support.

But I would like to ask my fellow Americans to take Veterans Day a step further this year. If you have a relative or friend who served, or maybe even someone you see in public who looks like a veteran, stop and ask him or her to tell you which branch of service they served in and if they could share a personal story with you. The veteran will probably be surprised that you asked, and you might be pleasantly surprised at what story is shared.

I recently wrote a book in which I share a month-to-month account of serving two years as part of a U.S. Navy crash, fire and rescue crew stationed at Barbers Point, Hawaii. My goal was to not only give readers an inside look at the daily life of a sailor, but how I was able to use the morals and etiquette skills I learned from my parents, grandmother and other relatives to succeed in the Navy and as an adult in civilian life.

I share stories such as the time I flared off a plane that would have otherwise crashed and burned, and meeting people from various cultures around the world who taught me how to respect and learn from people different than me.

Over a period of time before I wrote my book I shared bits and pieces of my military experiences with others, both veterans and those who never served. I was always moved when they told me to continue and tell them more.

So now I’m asking you to pay it forward. On Veterans Day ask some vet to share his or her most memorable military experience. You will not only make them feel honored for having served our nation, but you will feel good, too.

Kenneth R. Trout is the author of “Navy Crash Crew,” a memoir of his first two years of Naval service. He lives in Talent.


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