Memorial Day speech was an honor

Dear Editor:

I wanted to take a quick moment to thank Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2591 for putting their faith in me to speak at this year’s Memorial Day ceremony. It’s hard to put into words what that meant to me. To be someone who hasn’t served but asked to be the voice of our veterans makes me tearful.

They have done so much to preserve our freedoms and to enhance our lives. There is no way I can compare or am on their level. I am just a woman who listens and wants to learn from them. Their stories of service and sacrifice touch my soul.

To me, it doesn’t matter if you are a soldier, a sailor, an airman or a Marine. It doesn’t matter if you were on the front lines, were a cook, were a driver, served in the air, on land or on sea — you did something to protect our freedom.

Though my newspaper days are behind me, my journey with veterans continues to grow. I live in a world where it’s Veterans Day every day at the Missouri Veterans Home. When I walk in the door, I see sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines. These men and women inspire me each and every day to work hard. They leave an imprint on me and for that I am forever grateful.

Memorial Day is probably the hardest day of the year for me. I feel the losses of not only the veterans I interviewed when I worked at the paper, but also those I have lost while working at the Missouri Veterans Home. With 18 years of working with veterans, that number is huge.

There is one group who understands the depth of that loss better than anyone. It’s the men who serve on the Honors Detail. Everyone has their inspiration. These men are mine.

In sleet, in snow, in rain, in wind, in heat, they volunteer their time to make sure EVERY veteran has military honors. They ensure that no one is left behind and that any veteran who wants it is laid to rest respectfully and honorably.

Do you think this is an easy job? Heck no! They’ve had to perform military honors for many of their friends, brothers and family members with a strong face. They’ve presented the American flag to tearful mothers, spouses, children and grandchildren with such much style and grace. They make it look easy to be so strong, so confident, so loving but on the inside, they are crying just like you. So in case they don’t hear it enough, I want to personally say thank you.

I hope this Memorial Day I made them, the VFW, the American Legion, the 40&8 and the City of Sedalia proud. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me this honor and opportunity. I will never forget it or you.

Latisha Koetting


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