Tonight I had the honor and privilege to have dinner with three veterans and Kaarin Remmich of NDSU’s Military and Veteran Services office. The veterans – my son Noah, Dr. Berlin Nelson (from NDSU), and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Barry Bridger from Missouri. We were out to dinner this evening to welcome Barry into the state for a presentation he will give at NDSU tomorrow in honor of Veteran’s Day.
At the young age of 26 Barry spent six years in North Vietnam at the notorious prison camp called “Hanoi Hotel” (otherwise known as the horrendous Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi) after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War. Berlin was drafted while in college and also served in Vietnam. Noah served in Afghanistan. Three veterans, all with different experiences but with a shared sense of honor and ideals…ideals they were prepared to die for.
In my mind this dinner was perfectly timed on Election Day. Talking with these three men was a powerful reminder of the price that so many have paid for the ideals we hold dear in this country. To have a voice that is counted in a democratic society is something I think too many Americans have come to take for granted; but veterans do not take it for granted. They know the cost – they have lived it.
Berlin, me, Barry and Kaarin
(Photo taken by Noah who loathes having his photo taken)
Barry’s presentation is tomorrow at 12 PM at NDSU. I encourage you to take the time to attend. By doing so you not only honor his service – you honor the service of all veterans…you let them know that you appreciate and value their service. Consider it the smallest of thank yous for the freedoms you enjoy in this country.
Thank you Noah, Berlin, and Barry for your service and for helping to keep my voice free.
Salute to Service, Sacrifice and Survival
11/7/2012, 12 PM, Memorial Union Century Theater
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Barry Bridger, a highly decorated United States Air Force Veteran who was shot down over Son Tay, North Vietnam by a surface to air missile. He was subsequently captured by the North Vietnamese and imprisoned. For more than 6 years, LTC Bridger was one of about 350 Americans held captive at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison, where a fellow POW included U.S. Senator John McCain.
Day one thousand two hundred and nineteen of the new forty – obla di obla da