KC Keith, VP General Manager of Stockman Insurance and US Army Veteran, reflects on the importance of Veterans Day.
Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, is a day set aside to honor veterans who served, sacrificed, and returned so that all of us have the freedom to follow our dreams and passions. Armistice Day reflects the agreement to end World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day during the 11th month in 1918. Now called Veterans Day, this holiday always falls on November 11th with all memorials and celebrations beginning at 11:00 am.
As the 1980’s ARMY commercial stated so profoundly, our veterans’ sacrifices allowed us to “BE ALL WE CAN BE.” From World War I through the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Montanans have always supported, participated, fought, and sacrificed when our nation called. Montana provided over 75,000 of the 15 million who served in World War II. In proportion to population, Montana’s death rate in all theaters of World War II was second only to New Mexico. Montanans know and understand duty, honor, and service to their country. Currently, there are over 85,000 veterans residing in Montana, each with their own story and sacrifice. One day a year to reflect, praise, and honor our veterans just does not seem to be enough.
As I reflect on the sacrifices our veterans provided, I think of my father Ross Keith. Dad was eighteen and a senior in high school when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. He joined the Marines, fought, and was wounded on IWO JIMA and then was recalled for the Korean Conflict and was medically retired in 1954. Ross was like many other veterans. He came back to Montana, was a productive member of society, and continued to serve his community. Dad did not talk about his service or his purple hearts; it was an expectation and duty that he and thousands of other Montanans performed without fanfare or second thought. He along with thousands of other veterans returned from war, found work, and continued to serve their country in other ways such as volunteerism and advocacy work.
It goes without saying that I am proud to be my father’s son. I am also proud of Stockman. A few weeks ago, a competitor of mine stated “from the outside looking in, Stockman has it going on”. He further explained Stockman is all about and committed to Montana. He is correct, we are committed to Montana. We are Montanans serving Montanans. Stockman employees average over 5,000 volunteer hours a year. From volunteering as little league coaches to sitting as board members on local non-profit groups, you will see Stockman employees serving their communities.
Our Veterans accepted their call to serve and through volunteerism and giving back to their communities, they continue to serve and sacrifice. John F. Kennedy once said during a Veterans Day celebration, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” Let us honor those who served and returned this Veterans Day, by continuing to serve our communities.
- KC Keith