Veteran stresses role of families

Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Michael Tracy delivered the keynote speech at Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Veterans Day program. He thanked all those who served as well as military families.

NEW ULM — An annual veterans recognition program was held at Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School Wednesday.

Veterans from each branch of the arms services attended the event.

Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Michael Tracy served as the keynote speaker.

Originally from Wisconsin, after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Air Force. He trained in Aerospace Warning and Control Systems Operation and Information Systems Operations.

In active duty, he was stationed in Florida, Korea, Texas, California, Wisconsin and Germany, with temporary assignments in South Carolina, Alabama, Nevada, Korea, Honduras, Denmark and Saudi Arabia.

In 2018, he resigned from full-time employment and began full-time studies at Martin Luther College in the Staff Ministry and Chaplaincy programs. He lives in New Ulm with his wife Diane.

Tracy began his speech by thanking all the veterans who served. He said they were all heroes, even those who did not receive the Medal of Honor or Purple Heart.

Tracy said the support of all the veterans helped to defend the country. He said the supply sergeant made sure the soldiers had what they needed, the hospital corpsmen made sure soldiers could keep going and the drill instructor prepared the soldiers for their duties.

“We not been able to do it without your support,” he said.

Tracy said there was another group he wished to thank besides veterans. This was a group who did not take an oath to serve the country but still served. He was referring to the families of those in the military.

Tracy spoke with his four children and wife about the challenges of being in a military family and included their responses in his speech.

His oldest daughter Elizabeth spoke of the need to be resilient as the family needed to move often, which meant transferring schools. The benefit was they received a great education and saw more of the world than most people.

Abigail spoke of appreciating the simple things. She worked at a food court at a veterans’ hospital. She remembered one wounded soldier was grateful for the ability to eat a sandwich again after being shot by an insurgent.

His son Jonathan did not understand why his father was gone so much of his life and missed so many important moments until he too joined the service. While serving in Kuwait, Jonathan’s wife was in a car crash back home and he could not be there. He then understood the importance of depending on others.

Tracy’s wife Diane said she was not prepared for all the anniversaries and birthdays they would be apart, or how she often felt like a single mother. But she made many friends who were going through the same experience.

Tracy closed his speech by reminding the audience it is good to thank a veteran, but many have heard these thanks often and it became commonplace. Instead, he suggested people be specific when thanking veterans.

“Read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and find something personal to you and thank them for that,” he said. This will let veterans know their sacrifice was worth it.

Tracy said the country is losing too many veterans to suicide each day. They need help and cannot do it alone.

The program concluded with a “Taps” played by Luke Rogotzke. After the honor guard retired the colors, veterans in attendance were given a standing ovation as they departed the school.

This year Veterans Day is formally observed Monday, Nov. 11. The date was chosen to commemorate the end of WWI on Nov. 11, 1918. This is year is the 101st anniversary for the Armistice.


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