By Mackenzie Wagner and Nicholas Wynn
In honor of Veterans Day, Nov. 11, McNicholas High School invited veterans to the annual Veterans Day Breakfast and Lieutenant Colonel Brad Wenstrup, an Iraq War veteran, to speak to the student body.
Wenstrup joined the Army Reserve in 1998, and served as a combat surgeon in Iraq in 2005-2006. He was awarded a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge for his service. He has also been the US Representative for Ohio’s second congressional district since 2013.
In his speech, Wenstrup spoke on the importance of freedom. “There are lots of wrong things you can do with freedom, and it’s our responsibility to do the right thing,” he said.
Wenstrup also shared a number of stories throughout his speech, detailing the actions of many war heroes and other inspiring individuals. He would end their stories by a lesson or quote that could be learned from each story.
Some of the stories Wenstrup told were more personal, and he formed his own lessons and inspiration from each. One of these lessons repeated itself throughout the speech. “We were [of] all colors, but we all wanted to serve our country,” he said of his own fellow servicemen. Later in the speech, he reiterated, “If you carry prejudice in your heart today, you better look at [who’s protecting you].”
Another point Wenstrup emphasized was that war’s main purpose should be to foster peace. “We went to Iraq to make it a better place than we found it and to make the world a better place than we found it,” he said of his tour in Iraq.
“Those who serve in war are probably the greatest lovers of peace… because they can appreciate it more,” he concluded.
Following Wenstrup’s speech was McNick’s fifth annual Veteran’s Day Breakfast. Held in the Cafe and Student Union, McNick students were invited to accompany a family veteran or active member in the military to the breakfast. Captain Rob Hazzard of the Air Force was one of these veterans in attendance. During his eight years in the Air Force, Hazzard was a pilot stationed throughout the United States testing different aircraft, among other missions. He also spent about 150 days per year overseas in places like England, Greece, and Okinawa. “I was fortunate that during my time in the Air Force, our war was the Cold War. We lived in a time of relative peace. Many of the veterans who show up at these assemblies have been in shooting wars, from WWII to Korea to Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. I am humbled to be counted amongst them,” Hazzard said.
Hazzard also praised Wenstrup’s speech. “Congressman Wenstrup’s presentation is always good, but this year was particularly good as he really focused on the theme of service, Hazzard said. “For many, [the military] will be the job that provides more satisfaction than any other job they will ever hold because no matter what your job is in the military, you are part of a very large team defending the greatest country on planet earth.” Hazzard said. He said he also appreciated how Wenstrup touched on “other ways to serve your fellow man,” and that “without some element of service in your life, that life is somewhat less fulfilling.”
Social Studies Chair Pat Stricker, who was a part of planning the Veterans Day events, also commented on Wenstrup’s speech. “Wenstrup had a very good message expressing what our soldiers go through and the sacrifices they make for us,” he said, adding that “it’s important to honor our veterans because what they sacrificed enables us to have our everyday freedoms.” He also said that it is important to “thank veterans not only on [Nov.] 11, but also whenever we have the chance.”