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Greitens honors Missouri heroes

by Brittany Hilderbrand | January 10, 2017 at 4:48 a.m. | Updated January 10, 2017 at 5:53 p.m.
Vietnam veteran Bob Sneller, walks away after greeting Gov.-elect Eric Greitens, background right in light, as he hosted an event in the Capitol Rotunda to honor Missouri heroes prior to being sworn in as the governor.

For veterans and first responders like Cody Goodwin, the honor coin presented to them Monday is the reason they will always remember the inauguration of Missouri's 56th governor.

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Gov. Eric Greitens said he wanted to take the focus away from politicians by honoring Missouri's heroes instead of the traditional parade.

"This is special. It means a lot that the governor chose to share his day with us - not only with the police department, but with everyone who doesn't get attention from the media on a regular basis," said Goodwin, an officer with St. Louis County Police Department. "I'm really happy that my parents, my wife, son and co-workers are here to celebrate with me."

During the tribute, Greitens told the audience there wouldn't be a more fitting way to begin the day than with a celebration of the state's heroes. Longtime servicemen and veterans each received an honor coin as a token of appreciation.

"They are the best representatives of the state's people," Greitens said.

He continued to talk about how heroism can be perceived as extraordinary acts, but it also comes in quiet forms.

Greitens remarked heroism is when people choose their commitments generously, make decisions wisely and choose to spend their precious days finding ways to make other lives lighter and brighter.

"That's what so many of you have done here today," Greitens told the audience. "You inspire all of us."

Dwight Johnson, a former U.S. Marine who served during the Korean War, told the News Tribune it was an honor to be invited to the event.

"I've never been part of something like this before, and I'm really appreciative of the lady who invited me out here," Johnson said. "The fact that our governor is a Navy SEAL, that alone deserves a salute."

Craig Faith, director of public safety in Lee Summit, was surprised to be invited to such an event.

"It's kind of humbling to receive something like this," Faith said. "A lot of time public safety doesn't get recognized for things, but we're always there whenever we are needed."

Justin McCullough, a 16-year veteran Highway Patrol officer, agreed it was nice to be recognized by the governor.

"The fact that the governor is showing his appreciation means a lot to the law enforcement agencies that are here today," McCullough said.

Greitens asked that the honorees continue to serve as an example to the people of Missouri.

"We don't need more celebrities, we don't need more cynics or critics, but we do need people, as imperfect as we all are, to step forward and challenge ourselves to do more and become more," Greitens said.

Mike Patel, a veteran who served in the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army, characterized Greitens as "a man of the people."

"People don't realize that Missouri is the heart of the heartland, and now we have a chance to make a difference," Patel said. "We're going to make a difference because he is a man of the people."

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