Monday, November 11 is Veterans Day. With a large parade planned in Manhattan and other celebrations to honor our servicemen and woman across the nation, local Brooklyn veterans weighed in on why remembering the sacrifice of these brave individuals is important.
“Every one of us has put our lives on hold to go and serve our nation,” said Raymond Aalbue, a Vietnam-era veteran and vice chairperson of Brooklyn’s Memorial Day Parade Committee. “To celebrate and recognize, that is important.”
Aalbue is a former Air Force staff sergeant. He thoroughly believes remembering veterans is integrally important to the health of the country. Thanks to his involvement with the Memorial Day Parade, he is on the frontline of the effort to keep people involved in veteran appreciation, and he is immensely proud that over the past decades there’s been a change in the way in which the public recognizes and remembers veterans.
“Thing have definitely changed. Ten years ago, there were not to many people at the parade in Manhattan,” he said referring to that borough’s Veterans Day Parade. “The work of the United Veterans of New York and other organizations has changed that. Now the streets are packed.”
According to Aalbue, the stark realities presented by the U.S.’s current wars have also solidified the public’s appreciation. “People have to remember that it’s an all-volunteer army. These men and woman choose to go, and many more are appreciating it like they should.”
Barry Berger, a Vietnam War vet who served with the Army, believes remembering those who served is important for veterans as well as the public they protected. “The public should remember the guys who gave it all. It’s not very easy being a soldier,” he stressed.
Since his time in the armed forces, Berger says he has also noticed a great change in the level and way in which the public appreciates their soldiers.
“More people are involved in efforts for veterans,” he said. “People will often stop me while I’m wearing my veteran’s vest to say thank you.” He attributes this in part to the large amount of severely wounded troops returning from recent conflicts.
Because they have been saved by advanced field medical techniques, he claims the nation is being dramatically affected by seeing a larger number of war wounded than ever before. “People are seeing more of our wounded warriors,” Berger remarked. “They’re seeing the firsthand effects. They’re seeing what these soldiers go through. I, and more and more people, are giving them the credit they deserve.”
Anthony Giovinco, also a Vietnam vet, is proud that his nation is remembering those in today’s wars and past wars as well. He believes it was the difficulties faced and efforts taken by soldiers of his generation that helped to pave the way for a culture of respect for service people in today’s society.
“We were treated terribly, but we did everything we could to change that,” Giovinco said. He attributes this to efforts taken by veterans organizations as well as concerned citizens. “It is wonderful to see that, today, veterans from Korea, World War II, through Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan are getting the respect they deserve.”