One difference between July 4, 2012 and July 4, 2013 was about 15 degrees of heat.
Another difference was that the official unveiling of Platteville’s Veterans Honor Roll was on Independence Day 2012. Independence Day 2013 saw the unveiling of a new granite panel of names, from Donald M. Allen to John C. Zanardi.
The speaker Thursday was Paul Budden, a 23-year Wisconsin National Guard veteran.
“There seems to be a special bond between veterans, regardless of the branch of service they may have served in,” said Budden. “We tend to laugh and tell stories and talk about our adventures in the military, and sometimes when we talk about certain days or events, we cry together. We tend to share feeling and emotions with other vets, feelings we just cannot bring ourselves to share with others.”
Budden said he felt “fortunate in that I was not called upon to give my life for this country. But I was ready to do so if called upon … as is every veteran. When we enter into the military, and we sign on the dotted line, it’s like signing a blank check for payment up to and including our lives.”
Budden spoke of “those veterans that maybe did not intend to join the military, but were drafted and sent to a foreign land to fight for a cause that maybe they didn’t agree with, but they went anyway. It turned their lives upside down and changed everything. It changed any plans they may have had for starting a family, or maybe they had already started a family and now their spouses were left alone.
“And on top of that, just ‘being a veteran’ was something you didn’t want other people to know. There was a time when this country looked down upon our returning veterans. These veterans were not given the Welcome Home parades as they are today. And what about our heroes that were called upon to give the ultimate sacrifice? We need to remember them. We need to remember all of our wounded warriors and their families, for the pain, sufferings and sacrifices they have endured every day and will continue to endure for a long time to come.”
One of Budden’s sons is a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard 229th Engineering Company, which is returning to Wisconsin this month.
“Speaking for myself, having to watch my sons go off to war was much harder than going to war myself,” said Budden.
“The pain and heartache that I felt as they went off to war is the same pain and heartache felt by every family that sends a member off to war. … The uncertainty, the not knowing, the lack of that extra hand helping with the kids, or just helping with some household chores — it affects us all. They may not have the title of veteran, but what our family members do for us, the veteran, is certainly deserving of a medal.”