Sunday was a day for the Missouri State Fair family to say thank you to the men and women and the families of those who have given themselves in service to America as members of the United States Armed Forces.
A near-capacity crowd was on hand at the Mathewson Exhibition Center on the Missouri State Fairgrounds for the seventh annual Military Appreciation Day.
“Thank you for having a day like today where we are given the opportunity to celebrate and thank the men and women who serve for their commitment to our nation and freedom,” Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets IV, Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, said in his remarks. “They do whatever our president needs us to do to answer our nation’s call and they do this each and every day they serve.
“None of this would be possible without the support of their families and the communities who are also there behind these men and women,” Tibbets added. “We are extremely grateful for the support of our families and the communities they call home.”
After the ceremony, Tibbets spoke to the Democrat about the love and support the families bring to those who serve.
“I tell my men and women daily thank you for what you do,” Tibbets said. “This is an opportunity to say thank you to the families for what they do which is so very important.
“My family is No. 1 and means everything to me, as the families of our service men and women mean to them,” he added. “This is an opportunity to let others know that we appreciate all the sacrifices our families make on behalf of us and that it truly means something.”
Maj. Gen. Kent D. Savre, Commanding General, Fort Leonard Wood and the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, also thanked the community and state for their support.
“No matter how complex the situation or environment our men and women will fight and win,” Savre said to loud applause. “Missourians continue to support us and we thank them for all they do.
“We need to take a moment to thank them but also we need to thank those who have served and who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of others,” Savre added.
The keynote address was given by Rear Adm. Lee J. Metcalf, retired U.S. Navy and chair Missouri Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, who asked the audience to reflect on all who have come before, not only the generals and admirals but also the infantry men who make the nation great.
“These are ordinary people who do extraordinary things,” Metcalf said. “It is not a small task.”
Those often-unnoticed tasks are an example of the strong bond that exists between military and agricultural families according to Gen. Stephen J. Danner, Adj. Gen., Missouri National Guard.
“Many of our military members come from decades of brave men and women who lived and worked on family farms, they have a sense of stewardship,” Danner said. “The members of the military have the same sense of hard work, loyalty and perseverance as a farmer; we are kindred spirits.
“Every season brings about a new task or challenge for both the farmer and the military,” he added. “We know we must be ready — if a farmer fails, people starve, if the military fails, nations fail.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.