A Salute to Veterans

Remembering, Honoring America's Best

The veterans honored this year show that combat isn’t required to serve

When the Pamplin Media Group first published a “Salute to Veterans” six years ago, our urgent motivation was to record the stories of World War II veterans, who were dwindling in number as the years marched along.

Back in 2014, it had been 70 years since D-Day and almost 70 years since the end of hostilities for a war that reshaped the world in nearly every way. We wanted to document the living history of individuals who comprised what’s become known as the Greatest Generation. The following year, in 2015, we decided to repeat the effort, even as it got harder to find these surviving veterans, now aging into their 90s.

The articles and photos produced by our news staff back then gave readers a remarkable insight into the heroism and horrors of that era. Along the way, we discovered that the best stories went beyond the great battles — although those were certainly compelling. What mattered to the people we interviewed were the relationships they formed, the insights they gained and the life lessons they learned from their time in the military.

Over the past several years, we decided to move forward in time with the veterans in our communities, through Korea, Vietnam, two Gulf Wars and Afghanistan. Some of the people we interviewed for this year’s Salute to Veterans section had military careers that spanned multiple wars. This year’s section hasn’t left World War II completely behind. Look inside this section for the story of Leland “Bud” Lewis, a 100-year-old Portlander who ran supply lines in the Pacific during World War II and returned to a long career with Portland police.

Since World War II, no war involving the United States has had the same clarity of purpose and near-universal support — a fact that is reflected in the stories of many of the veterans interviewed for this section. But we’ve learned that our readers are capable of appreciating the sacrifices made by veterans, even if they have divergent views about our overseas conflicts. 

 

Along those lines, the veterans profiled in this section have served in very different ways. Paul Maidel of Tualatin is a veteran who makes sure other veterans leaving the service receive an appropriate welcome home. Stiles Jewett, who lives near Wilsonville, was a surgeon who took care of soldiers and civilians in two wars separated by decades — Vietnam and Iraq. Susan Labhard of Lake Oswego was a longtime Navy nurse working out of hospitals, aircraft carriers, helicopters, submarines and tents to help injured personnel regain their quality of life.

It’s always impressive to hear the stories of daring and courage, and there is an ample amount of that in these pages. However, it’s equally important to acknowledge the humility that many veterans express. Their stories are really about service, not fighting. Keith Weir, a Korean War veteran from Sherwood summed up quite well the attitude we heard from many of the veterans who were interviewed:

“You should serve your country in some way. It doesn’t have to be the military. It could be in your neighborhood.”

Mark Garber is president of the Pamplin Media Group.

2020 SALUTE TO VETERANS
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