Selflessness and sacrifice: Riverton remembers its veterans
Nov 20, 2018 11:30AM
● By Mariden Williams
Groovy patriotic tunes were provided by the Riverton Jazz Band. (Mariden Williams)
By Mariden Williams | [email protected]
Riverton's 2018 Veterans Day program focused on highlighting the stories of military veterans. The Riverton Arts Council sponsored a Veterans Day essay contest for youth ages 8–18, with the aim of collecting stories of military veterans who made an impact in the community or the world at large. Winners Kenley Taylor, Braedon Burge, Mara Spigarelli and Carter Larson read their essays at the beginning of the program.
"Some veterans like their name being heard,” said Spigarelli, who won third place. “They want to be remembered. My grandpa seems to be the opposite. He's often hard to talk to. He's secluded and keeps to himself, but he's a great person, and I think he should be remembered. My grandpa inspires me. He never boasts about his accomplishments but stays quiet. He knows that when he joined the Air Force, it wasn't so that he would be recognized for it later. It was to help people who weren't as fortunate as he was."
Humility and the desire to put the spotlight on others were running themes throughout the program, even from the veterans who were asked to speak about their experiences fighting for their country.
Chief Jason Adamson, a third-generation military veteran, said fairly little about his own experiences with the military, instead opting to talk more about his father and about his grandfather, who fought in World War II.
Adamson was living on a military base in Germany when his dad was deployed to serve in the first Gulf War.
"All the kids I went to school with—all their dads were deploying as well,” Adamson said. “It was a very scary time for all of us. We were really scared about what was going to happen—what was going happen to him, what was gonna happen to the soldiers."
When the time did come to talk about himself, Adamson, who has served with the Air Force and the National Guard, deflected the spotlight with a joke.
"I served with some of the most elite special operation soldiers in the world—and since I was an intelligence guy, I can't tell you anything about it," he laughed. He talked a little bit more about the impact his deployments had on his family, recounting the heartbreaking moment when his little daughter clung to his leg at the airport before his deployment, asking, "Dad, are you gonna die?"
UFA Battalion Chief Mike White also preferred to talk about veterans other than himself and again emphasized sacrifices made rather than glamorous stories.
"It's on this day we reflect on the sacrifice of really incredible, incredible people," said White.
White read three letters written by soldiers to their loved ones just prior to their deaths: one written by a 15-year-old drummer boy during the Civil War, one scribbled on the back of family photographs by a captured American lieutenant in World War II and one written by a soldier about to embark on a mission to flush 600 Taliban fighters out of the mountains in Afghanistan.
"I hope as we reflect on these letters and what the meaning of Veterans Day is, the stories that are out there, I challenge all of us as citizens, not just of this great country, but even of our community, be involved,” White said. “Step up, get involved in a cause bigger than yourself. That's what makes this country worth fighting for: the people.”
The Riverton Jazz Band provided entertainment in the form of upbeat patriotic swing tunes. The auditorium lobby had a number of military displays courtesy of the Riverton Historical Preservation Commission and Layne Schoenfeld, featuring guns, replica grenades, fatigues and other gear.
"We want to thank our veterans,” said Mayor Trent Staggs. “Thank you for your service and for all that you do. We recognize that although our inalienable rights to right, liberty and property come from God, they are nonetheless politically protected and therefore we rely on our armed forces to defend that freedom."