Military Heritage Museum
Fishermen's Village
1200 West Retta Esplanade, Unit 48
Punta Gorda, Florida 33950
Mon - Sat: 10am to 6pm
Sun: noon to 5pm
Admission is free
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1 November 2008 - All gave some and some gave all

In the Military Heritage Museum, I’ve often heard people say, “I was never on a front line; I don’t consider myself a veteran.” It’s so unfortunate that anyone would feel that way.
According to Wikipedia, “A veteran is one who has served in the armed forces, but usually not someone who had a dishonorable discharge … A common misconception is that one had to have either been in combat and/or has retired from active duty to be called a military veteran.”
Discussions of this topic bring to mind a Billy Ray Cyrus song, the name of which titles this column. The lyrics include: “All gave some and some gave all/ Some stood through for the red, white and blue/And some had to fall/And if you ever think of me/Think of all your liberties and recall/Some gave all.” But the importance of those lyrics, for this column, is in “All gave some.”
As an activated Air National Guardsman (Women are called “Guardsmen,” too.), I left for the Middle East on my last tour with 550 others, all heading for Iraq, Afghanistan or Qatar. None of us knew exactly where we would go until we got to Saudi Arabia. I was one of a small group of 35 sent to Qatar. In an article in our base’s weekly magazine, Col. Perry Cooper wrote “We’re all on the front lines of shaping history and contributing to promoting peace, freedom and security in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.” I think that anyone who served during any of the wars or conflicts in any capacity has something similar written about him. I just don’t know if all realize that.
November, with Veterans Day, is here, and this is an especially significant time for celebrating veterans. What was formerly called “Veterans Appreciation Week” has now been expanded to “Veterans Appreciation Celebration,” because the events span far more than seven days. I invite you to go to www.mhaam.org to see a list of many of the community events scheduled to provide an opportunity to show your appreciation of veterans.
Among those events is our own “War Stories” in the museum on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. We’ll have veterans from World War II forward on hand to talk about their involvement. (And we will also have a WWI historian, dressed in uniform, present to discuss that war.) All of us will wear badges with our names and the various wars or conflicts in which we were involved. The hours are scheduled to include time for parents to bring their children in after school. Refreshments will be served. Come in, take a tour of the museum, and talk to some local veterans. If you’re a veteran who would like to come in and tell his own stories, please call me at 941-575-9002.
Don’t forget: We’re also holding a Veterans Golf Tournament on Nov. 9. It’s at Deep Creek Golf Club, with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m., and the proceeds benefit the museum. Anyone desiring to support the museum, whether you’re a regular golfer or not, is welcome. For more information, call 941-575-9002 or go to www.mhaam.org and click on “News from the Front.”
“A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’ That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.” With this anonymous quote, I’d like to make a request. Veterans are all around you. Find one and take a moment to say “Thank you for your service.” Trust me; you’ll both feel good about that.
Kim Lovejoy is the executive director of the Military Heritage Museum, located in Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information about the museum, call 941-575-9002, e-mail info@ mhaam.org, or visit www.mhaam.org.