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Today, we honor our defenders, those who give us a sense of safety by often leaving their own safe environment.

On Veterans Day, we reflect on the many people in our country who have put their lives aside for the sake of our country.

Many people who have been in the military have had "ordinary" experiences and have been fortunate not to experience the hell that is war.

But even those who have gone through boot camp and gone on to serve in safe and routine environments still deserve our gratitude. They still deserve to be thanked for their service.

So do their families. A commitment to serve our country in the military isn't just a solo commitment — it's a commitment and a sacrifice made by families.

Simply joining one of our branches of military service requires a commitment that could mean giving your life for your country. It's a job that requires courage and patriotism, among other things.

Many people have made that ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms — ironically even the freedom to burn the American flag in protest.

While we can't individually thank everyone who has served in this space, there are four Missouri veterans who deserve special acknowledgment.

One of them you've likely heard of — Harry S Truman, of Independence. Before serving as president of our country, he served in the Missouri National Guard. In World War I, Capt. Truman's battery supported Gen. Patton's tank brigade and fired some of the final artillery rounds of World War I in November 1918.

He was one of four Missourians recently inducted into the first class of the Missouri Veterans Hall of Fame.

The general public isn't as familiar with the other three: Joseph J. Frank and Ophelia "Ophie" Landry Owens, both of St. Louis; and Brydon M. Ross, of Kennett.

As we recently reported, Frank was the only living member of the inaugural class. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and was injured in a land mine explosion in 1968. He went on to serve as commander of the local American Legion post.

Owens served in the Marine Corps during Vietnam, met her husband in the service and was forced to separate from the USMC when she married. Her service to the military did not end there as she volunteered extensively with Veteran Service Organizations over her lifetime, including the Women Marines Association and The American Legion. She provided military honors for 487 veterans as a member of the Honor Guard. She died in April.

Ross served in the Army Air Corps as a B-24 pilot and 449th Group squadron leader during World War II. His squadron bombed the German oil fields at Ploesti, Romania, six times. After his separation, he was actively involved with the Kennett Kiwanis, Dunklin County Fair, Kennett Little League and was circuit court clerk of Dunklin County from 1946-84. He died in August 1984.

We honor these veterans and all veterans today and thank them for their unwavering service to our country.

News Tribune

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