“Veteran stories are crucial part of our nation’s history” – Veterans Day Message from ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick
I love to study our nation’s history through the lens of our military veterans. Who could fail to be inspired by the brash courage of the United States Marines during the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I? Or by the words of Marine Captain Lloyd W. Williams, who, after being repeatedly urged to turn back by retreating French forces, famously said, “Retreat? Hell, we just got here.” Legend has it that it was at this battle that Marines earned the German nickname “Teufelshunde”: “Devil Dogs.” What about the story of Pfc. Dirk J. Vlug, serving in the Philippines during World War II, who refused to back down despite being outnumbered 5-to-1. No, it wasn’t one against five enemy soldiers. It was one soldier against five, heavily armed Japanese tanks.