Gov. Mike Parson presented two Missouri veterans with banners Wednesday to commemorate their service.
On May 1 each year, the United States observes Silver Star Service Banner Day to recognize soldiers who received the Silver Star Medal. The award is the third-highest personal decoration given for valor in combat. However, the banner may be more broadly associated with service members who have been affected by combat.
Parson presented Silver Star Banners to Bryce Lockwood, of Strafford, and Herb Siebert, of St. Louis.
People don't often get to recognize America's veterans, especially those from World War II, Parson told a small group of people gathered in his office.
"There aren't many of them left," Parson said. "Anybody who knows anything about history — what these gentlemen did and what they went through during that time — those were some of the toughest times in our nation for service."
The banners don't seem adequate enough to thank the men for their service, he continued.
"There are many people out there who still believe in the armed forces and what we do for this country," Parson said.
He told the men it was an honor for him to present a proclamation and the banners to the men on behalf of the state's veterans.
The proclamation declared May 1 as Silver Star Service Banner Day to remember the sacrifices made by veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Siebert fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
In 1943, at 18, Siebert was drafted into the U.S. Army. And late during the summer of 1944, he boarded a ship headed for the war in Europe. Before long, he found himself in Belgium.
In Antwerp, in the middle of December, he found himself fighting for his life during the Battle of the Bulge — a month-long last-gasp effort by the Germans to divide Allied armies.
Siebert was shot through his left arm during the battle and received the Purple Heart.
Lockwood was wounded when Israeli forces struck the U.S.S. Liberty in the late 1960s.
Lockwood joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating in 1957 from high school in New York.
While serving temporary orders on the U.S.S. Liberty in 1967, he survived an Israeli torpedo attack and airstrikes that killed 34 Americans and wounded 174. The U.S. and Israeli governments found the attacks to be accidental, and said the Liberty was mistaken for an Egyptian ship.
Lockwood received the Purple Heart for the injuries he received in the incident. He was the only U.S. Marine to survive the attack.
He later served in Vietnam.
Parson said he often tells people he wouldn't have become governor if not for his service to the country.
"What was important to me about serving in the military was truly about the people who served before I did and how much respect I had for them," he said, "and all the things they sacrificed for us today."
The men standing before him were examples of what he dearly believed when he joined the U.S. Army at 19, he said.
"It is truly an honor to have you come here today, to get to salute you today," he said. "Your service to the country and what it means to be a true patriot."