Area veterans were honored at a special ceremony at the Red Oak Comminuty Junior/Senior High School Nov. 10.
Guest speaker at the ceremony was retired veteran and Montgomery County Veterans Memorial Court of Honor member Amanda Hill, a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, who served with the Air Force for more than two decades.
Hill, at the recommendation of Court of Honor member Bob Fensterman, said she decided to focus her speech on what Veterans Day meant to her, saying her perspective when she first joined the Air Force in 1999, when she was 18 years old, was quite different than it is today.
“I arrived at Ellsworth Air Force Base on Nov. 7, 1999. Just a few days later was Veterans Day. I didn’t know many people, as I had just gotten there, but I had a day off already. How cool is that? You go to your first job and get a day off right away. So we went and had a cup of coffee and a free breakfast, and then we went to lunch somewhere for free, and then I think we went to a steakhouse and ate free. It was all about getting a free meal to me at that time. It was 1999, I was 18, and I thought the Air Force was just my job. I would come and do my job, I would go home and do what I wanted, and then there was a day where people just fed us for free? Veterans Day was the best,” Hill said.
It was only two years later, when Hill was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, that Hill’s perspective began to change.
“I enlisted during peace time, and there wasn’t anything too crazy going on in the world. But on Sept. 11, 2001, our country was attacked. They thought Nellis was going to be the next target because we were in Las Vegas, and because of the population. I’ll never forget that morning. There was a knock on my door, and they said everybody needs to report to the foyer. Then they told us The World Trade Centers had been hit, and other places around the country had been attacked. I remember thinking oh my gosh, we’re going to war,” commented Hill.
It was in a later phone call to her husband, Chad, that Hill said she was reminded it was their job to serve their country, and if they were called to serve, it was their job. Hill said she answered that call, and she was deployed around 30 times. Hill said after Sept. 11, Veterans Day had a different meaning for her.
“It wasn’t just a free cup of coffee, it wasn’t a free breakfast, and it sure wasn’t just a free steak. Veteran’s Day is a day of honor. It’s a day of remembrance. Veterans Day is a day that the country thanks all the veterans for what they do. It’s a day when America gives just a little extra thanks. And if someone feels like giving me a free cup of coffee, or a free breakfast, or a free steak, I’m going to thank them for thanking us,” stated Hill.