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'Every Day Is Veterans Day'

Flag at half-staff. File photo
Edward O'Brien

For Missoulian Bob Ferris, every day is Veterans Day.

Ferris was stationed with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines during the Vietnam war. That particular battalion sustained heavy casualties; 749 men were killed in action and two went missing in action during it's Vietnam service. Ferris attended today's annual Forgotten Warriors Post 101 Veterans Day ceremony.

"You wouldn't let a little snow and ice and anything else keep you from being down here," Ferris said. "It's very important."

Ferris says nothing beats the camaraderie of a day dedicated to honor men and women who have served in the Armed Forces.

"It's so important, just seeing all the old guys down here sharing stories they don't share with most people. It was amazing to hear some of the guys talking."

Jerry Christianson served in the Army for 25 years. Christianson is commander of The American Legion of Montana District 5. To Christianson, Veterans Day is more than simply a federal holiday.

"It's a day of remembrance," he says. "You remember those you served with, some of the people didn't make it home. You (also) remember our citizen soldiers that are serving right now. For instance, there's an MP (Military Police) unit in Bozeman, Montana that's on active duty over in Afghanistan right now. A lot of people don't even realize that."

The theme of today's ceremony in Missoula was "Every War Has Its Beginning, But Does It Ever Really End?"

Credit Edward O'Brien
A Missoula veteran honors fallen soldiers at the Honor Table as part of the Veterans Day ceremony at the Missoula County Courthouse.

"Oftentimes you have a lot of traumatic experiences from the war," Christianson says. "You never forget your military service. If you're a veteran, you just never forget it. You remember it a lot of times just like it was yesterday and a lot of people have disabilities, injuries, post traumatic stress disorder from their service. It's an ongoing thing."

Christianson hopes the Veterans Administration Health Care System gets the reforms he says it so desperately needs.

About 80 people turned out for today's Veterans Day ceremony in Missoula. The bitter cold temperatures prompted organizers to stage the event inside the Missoula County Courthouse, the first time that been done in recent memory. It's usually held by the Doughboy statue on the courthouse lawn.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.
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