Veterans were honored at two separate ceremonies, one in Warrenton, and the other in Marthasville, Missouri, on November 11, 2023.
Warren County residents marked Veteran’s Day with two ceremonies to honor the heroes who risked their lives to ensure freedom for American citizens.
Those who served, though, aren’t a huge fan of that term. “I’ll tell you I’m not a hero,” Ray Kehoe said during his keynote speech during the ceremony at the Elks Lodge in Warrenton.
That is, though, exactly what a hero would say.
Kehoe’s career in the military began when he graduated from Navy boot camp on his 18th birthday in April 1956, advancing from fireman apprentice to petty officer second class. After he was discharged, he reenlisted in May 1959.
In 1967 he was appointed a warrant officer, and became a Navy lieutenant, a rank that is equivalent to captain in the other branches, in 1974. He deployed to Vietnam twice.
Kehoe might not consider himself a hero. But he did walk with a few heroes, he said.
“I met medal of honor recipients. I knew a few who received the Navy Cross and the silver star,” he said.
“These individuals are recipients of these awards, the medals, and awards actions which showed their bravery and more concern for the welfare of others than for themselves. These are the heroes, those who gave their lives in service of our country, those who risked their lives in combat to defend our country, and those who came to the aid of their comrades in dangerous situations.”
But for those who didn’t serve, the day was an opportunity to thank those who did.
Several people attended a short ceremony at the Tribute to Veterans Memorial in Warrenton prior to the Elks ceremony, saluting the more than 70 Warren County residents who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the country in conflicts dating back to World War I.
Many of those attendees, plus scores of others, packed the Elks hall for the main event.
And even more attended a ceremony at Daniel Boone American Legion Post 180 in Marthasville for that ceremony.
The guest speaker there, Naval Reserves Cmdr. Patti Lee talked about why it was important to step up and serve after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
She left her job teaching at Francis Howell Middle School and served near Somalia for a year.
Lee said she truly relates to the song by Lee Greenwood, especially the words “I thank my lucky stars to be living here today” and that she is “proud to be an American.” Lee said she took her oath very seriously to defend the constitution and obey the president when she served in the war-torn African country.
“A veteran is anyone who has served in the U.S. military,” she said. “Some don’t believe they can be a veteran without serving in wartime. Anyone who raises their right hand and commits to the oath is a veteran.”
That was a point Kehoe strongly accentuated during his speech, too.
“Although you may have served in peacetime or war time away from the action, I say be proud of your service because you could have been sent into harm’s way at any time,” he said. “You’re all defenders of the freedoms we enjoy in our country today. A grateful nation thanks all those who served on our behalf. Hold your heads high knowing that you were willing to risk all for our great country and way of life.”
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at firstname.lastname@example.org