It was a special ending to a special day on Wednesday, Nov. 11, when three veterans – Phil Vrska, Randy Belton and Michael Edison – met with elementary students for a casual Q&A on Veterans Day.
Students sat on the gym floor and asked questions about camaraderie, battles, insignia, uniforms and the biggies – “Why did you start as a soldier?” “Are you retired?” “Can they make you go?” “What was the worst (and the best) memory you have?”
Of his memories of Iraq and Afghanistan, Vrska choked up briefly. “You keep the bad memories inside you. ... Some memories are hard to deal with.”
His “fondest” memories were spent with other Marines; another “worse” memory was when helicopters dropped 30 days’ supply of MREs and all were Szechuan chicken for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Belton added, “You just remember, there are ways to work those things out and the
Veteran Michael Edison explains different ‘badges’ and ribbons, including Purple Hearts, on his hat.
good usually outweighs the bad.”
“All of us took an oath when we enlisted
to protect this country and the Constitution,” Edison explained. “That does not ever expire.”
Vrska agreed. “When veterans serve, whether for four years or 40 and you’re called back to serve, you do it.”
As the Q&A drew to an end, Vrska told the kids as Americans to really look at the American flag. They have freedoms that include burning or stomping on the flag just as they enjoy freedoms of speech and religion.
“This country is beautiful; it’s not perfect and not always ran how you think it should be ran but it is the best place on Earth,” Vrska said. “There are men and women that fought for that flag.”
He reminded them to stand up for themselves if they believe they are “doing the right thing.”
He added, “Never, ever, ever be made fun of for your choices. When you see the flag, remember a veteran.”