Scott: Now, Veterans Day is held every year to honor those who have dedicated themselves in service to our country. And as Maggie Rulli shows us, for one serviceman, the day of honor doesn’t come without memories of sacrifice.
Kylie Jennings: Dear, grandpa. Thank you so much for everything you have done to keep us and our community safe.
Maggie: Kylie and Emily Jennings are writing a secret letter to their grandpa, Don Jennings. A Korean War veteran, Don is about to board a plane that will take him back in time to a memorial of a place that he says changed the course of his life.
When Don was 20, the United States was involved in the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. There was the threat of a draft, when the government says that everyone of a certain age must sign up to fight in the military. Don and his college friends decided they wouldn’t wait to be called. So, together, they enlisted and volunteered to fight in the war.
Don Jennings: My dad looked at me, and he said, ‘Do you know what that means?’ And I said, ‘Not really.’ He said, ‘Well, you’re going to go to the Army. You’re going to go to the service.’ I said, ‘Oh my God,’ you know? And he said, ‘You know what? You’re going to fulfill your commitment. You’re going to go.’
Maggie: Don ended up serving as a medical technician. He says there are days in the field that he would rather forget. Letters from home were constant reminders of loved ones and of what he had left behind.
Don: My buddy and I, we’d look out and we’d say, ‘Well, you know, what are they doing back home?’
Maggie: His son, Chris, knows some of these stories.
Chris Jennings: He talked about being, quote, ‘overseas,’ being away from his family, his mom and dad for the first time, the food, the lack of food.
Maggie: Now Don is being honored for those sacrifices.
Airline pilot: We’d like to welcome you to Washington, D.C.
Maggie: Paid for by donations, this charted flight carried Don and 87 other veterans to Washington, D.C. to show them the memorials made in their honor…
Don: Hey, here’s the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Maggie: …And to thank them for their service.
Don: Oh man. Oh my God.
Maggie: Don wanted to walk beside the 8-foot soldiers who represented young men who were just like him.
Don: God bless America. It’s the most wonderful people and country in the world. And if I had to do it all over again, there’s no if’s ands or buts.
Maggie: More than 21 million military veterans, like Don, are currently living in the United States. In honor of every man and woman who has made sacrifices in service to our country, November 11th was legally set aside as Veterans Day in 1938.
For Don and his fellow veterans, this honor flight was a thank you for those years of sacrifice, a service that a new generation is thanking him for today. On his way home, grandpa gets delivered a letter, one that was written days ago.
Emily Jennings: I love you very much and appreciate all you do and did.
Kylie: I love how you have worked so hard to keep everyone healthy and happy.
Emily: I am really glad that you are my grandpa and wouldn’t want anyone to replace you.
Kylie: Thank you so much.
Emily: You have impacted my life in a very good way and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Love, Emily.
Maggie: Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.
Scott: It is not just Kylie and Emily who appreciate our veterans. We at Channel One want to say thank you to all the men and women who have served our country. And if you want to lend a hand to our veterans, head to Channelone.com for a whole list of ideas on how you can make an impact.