On the eve of Veterans Day, veterans from all branches of the service turned out for the seventh annual Veterans Appreciation Day, hosted by Neosho High School students.

On the eve of Veterans Day, veterans from all branches of the service turned out for the seventh annual Veterans Appreciation Day, hosted by Neosho High School students.

The program included breakfast, music from the Wildcat Jazz Band, a performance by the Cecilian Choir, presentations by the high school’s AFJROTC and a speech by Kevin Foote, store manager at Walgreens of Neosho and also a Wounded Warrior Project advocate.

“I never served in the military,” said Foote. I guess that I served in a different uniform. I got to tell you, all of my close relatives, my grandfather, my father, my brother, sister in law, and my son, will all be military as well.

Prior to Foote getting involved with Walgreens, he entered the police academy, when he was 21 years old, working overnight security guard to put himself through the academy. He graduated from the academy with honors, marksmanship and a Class A Certification, which allowed him to work in large metropolitan areas such as Kansas City, which he spent 11 years in law enforcement. He came to Neosho in 2012 as Walgreens store manager.

“It didn’t take too long living here before I recognized that there is a strong military presence here in Neosho,” said Foote. “Dating back to the Civil War, apparently the city gave members for both sides. (Also) Clyde R. Burdick (American Legion Post 163 named after him). (Also) the POW camp built in 1942, where we had 40,000 people get processed through Camp Crowder. So obviously, there is a strong military presence here.”

Foote also talked a little bit about the fundraiser back in May of this year for the Wounded Warrior Project. That fundraiser was held at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery.

“I think that the biggest thing that caught the attention was the way that the community really grabbed hold of it (the Wounded Warrior Project fundraiser),” he said. “We started throwing it around a little bit in December of last year, we wanted to do something for the Wounded Warriors and the soldiers that were injured. It really seemed to take off really well.”

After the program, Lewis Cole, a veteran of the Korean Conflict, was asked a couple of questions from the Neosho Daily News.

NDN: What years did you serve and what branch of service?
Cole: I served from 1951-1955 during the Korean Conflict, in the U.S. Air Force.

NDN: Why did you decide to join the service?
Cole: I had a choice, either be drafted into the (U.S.) Army or join the (U.S.) Air Force, I chose the Air Force because I had some other buddies that were in the Air Force also.

NDN: Where were you stationed at?
Cole: I was stationed three places, I started out in Texas in basic training, then from there I went to Georgia for training and then from there, I went north to Rapid City, S.D., I spent the rest of my enlistment there, I was in a very I guess you could say very secret type operation.

NDN: You never went overseas?
Cole: I never went overseas, but I was scheduled one time to go overseas, but my CO – who was from Ft. Smith, Ark. – said ‘no, you are staying here with us’ and I did. I was very lucky. I did my four years active duty, then I did I think four years of inactive in the reserves.

NDN: What does Veterans Day mean to you?
Cole: It means a lot of recognizing those that have gone on before us and served our country, protected our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and everything that we as Americans have sometimes forgotten that people have laid down their lives to sacrifice the things that we enjoy each and every day.

NDN: Do you encourage others to go into the service?
Cole: It is a volunteer situation today, where people volunteer for the service and I am grateful for that. But back years ago, during World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict (and Vietnam War), but it is an honor to serve your country, it is an honor to live in a country where we have the freedoms and choices that we can do every day.