If we don’t honor our veterans, who will? Not Joe Biden

mark.young@manateeherald.com

In yet another bizarre week of liberals doing weird things like AOC dancing to protestors chanting AOC has to go, there is plenty to talk about, but I’d prefer to focus on something a lot more important.

OK, I can’t resist talking about it for a little bit. Did you see the clip of her sitting on the stage, spreading her legs wide open, sticking her tongue out and doing what I guess she used to do as a bartender for tips?

It was hilarious and disturbing all at the same time.

But I guess that’s what happens when uninformed New York voters put a Coyote Ugly wannabe in Congress.

It’s one of many, many reasons I have such a deep appreciation for our Congressman Vern Buchanan. While AOC was busy embarrassing herself and mocking fellow Latinos, Buchanan this week was honoring some very special veterans in our area.

Vern Buchanan and Mark Young

It was a privilege for me to serve as one of three judges for the inaugural Congressional Veteran Commendation awards, and it was an even bigger honor to be selected to introduce Buchanan at Thursday’s ceremony at the Manatee Players theater.

It was quite the experience all the way around. I’ve done countless stories on local veterans in every community I have ever worked. The living history in our communities is awe inspiring if you can get veterans to open up about their experiences.

When they do, even as a veteran myself, it leaves you sitting there with your jaw open, barely able to utter the word, “Wow,” as your heart fills with such a deep appreciation for what our American warriors have done for this great nation.

Just a quick example was a WWII veteran I interviewed when I first got into this business in Okeechobee. He was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge by the Germans.

The Germans put him on a train to be taken back behind the lines as  POW. While enroute, an allied plane strafed the train thinking it was a troop transport and this veteran was wounded a second time in the attack.

Now severely wounded, the Germans took him to an unmarked hospital that was subsequently bombed by the allies and he suffered additional wounds.

This, of course, is just a summary of his overall story, but I realized I was sitting down with a genuine piece of history.

The way I felt that day, and so many other times while interviewing veterans, is how I felt while judging this contest.

In particular were the World War II veteran winners, to include US Navy veteran Edward Mahoney and US Army veteran John Skeen, who celebrated his 104th birthday on the day of the ceremony.

Mahoney served with the Marines during the fierce island hopping campaign that ended Japan’s expansion throughout the Pacific arena.

Mahoney’s story was like opening up a history book and watching it come to life. I’m a serious history buff and nothing excites me more than military history.

Skeen is another Battle of the Bulge veteran and for me to have met two of those veterans over the course of my career is an honor I just cannot put into words.

These are battles and campaigns I have studied and researched my whole life. I think I mentioned at some point that I never understood my father’s service in Vietnam growing up.

But once I joined the military myself, I took it upon myself to educate myself on the Vietnam War and then commenced a lifelong journey to understand just who our veterans are and what makes the American warrior so special.

Those submitting on behalf of Mahoney and Skeen were able to provide a lot of detail about their military service. The award itself also focused on what these veterans have done post service as far as community service goes and giving back to other veterans.

These veterans not only did amazing things while serving this nation, but that service to others never left them when they continued in the private sector.

I offer a grateful thank you to Mahoney and Skeen, as well as the other winners, to include:

For the Korean War, the winner was John Brill of Longboat Key.

For the Vietnam War, the winners were US Navy veteran Richard Petrucci of Lakewood Ranch and US Army veteran Richard Swier of Sarasota.

Bradenton’s own David Dailey was the Gulf War winner.

Most of the submissions didn’t contain a lot of information, but fortunately all three judges are veterans, as well. We were able to decipher what each medal and commendation meant and there was some serious badassery in those DD 214s that left us judges wanting to know more.

I would encourage any veteran, family member or friend of a veteran who makes a submission next year to tell the story. Trust me, I know how difficult it is to get a veteran to talk. But also trust me, we all want to listen.

This award is really about the combination of exceptional military and community service so I don’t want to lose track of the very important community service aspect of this Congressional recognition.

So tell the whole story.

None of this would have happened if not for Buchanan, who I know loves his veteran constituency. So a big thank you to our congressman who actually cares about veterans and shows it through action.

So while Biden is getting Americans killed for a 9-11 anniversary photo op or checking his watch out of boredom as American flag draped coffins get unloaded, let’s remember this election cycle and every election cycle to come just who cares about and honors our American warriors.

So my fellow Patriots, you know what to do. Stay vigilant out there. These are dangerous times with liberal progressives at the helm. Stay aware and as always, stay informed. The future of this great nation is at stake.

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By Mark Young

Mark Young is a U.S. Army veteran and a seasoned journalist of 25 years. His writing and reporting has garnered dozens of state press association and press club awards in Florida, Nebraska and Wyoming for investigative reporting, opinion writing, in-depth reporting and more.

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