BUCKHANNON — As Take Pride in America Month came to a close, a guest speaker said it was important to remember the freedoms we have because of the sacrifices of our veterans.
Ret. Col. Robert Kincaid spoke Saturday at the third annual Take A Veteran to Dinner held at the Buckhannon Moose Lodge.
“Young people take a lot of things for granted in this great country,” he said.
“Most of the young people here take things for granted like the fact that they can go to school,” he said. “Our country allows that and expects that and people start taking that for granted.”
Another freedom is that of the right to vote.
“In a lot of countries, women can’t vote,” he said. “These are freedoms we have taken for granted so much that people don’t realize what that gives us.”
“In our country, everyone is expected to vote — but do they?” Kincaid asked. “Why should we vote? So that we can have the rights that we were given by our Founding Fathers. Those rights were borne on the shoulders of our veterans who went and fought for them.”
“We need, as leaders in our community, to make sure those young people understand that they shouldn’t take things for granted,” he said.
“If we don’t tell the young people in our community what is expected of them, they just won’t do it,” he said.
Very few elected officials have military backgrounds, according to Kincaid.
“As we vote, I’m not saying we need to vote for veterans but we need to vote for people that represent our country and maintain the values of our country,” he said.
Kincaid also said he hopes to see a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
As reported at a board of education meeting, the Army is not accepting any more applications for ROTC programs at this time but the Air Guard does have a program available.
“We are one of the few high schools in this state that doesn’t have an ROTC program,” Kincaid said. “Whether it be Army or Air Force, we need to get that here.”
Kincaid also pointed to supporting American-made products and treating people equal as other characteristics needed to show pride in American.
“There’s no class system in this country,” he said.
“The United States is unique because it’s the melting point of the world and that’s what makes us great. Take pride in yourself, take pride in your community and take pride in your country.”
Lois LaFontaine, president of the Take Pride in America organization, said that about 80 tickets were sold for the dinner but half of those tickets were used Saturday.
Take Pride in America got off to a slow start this year as LaFontaine said she had been battling illness.
However, she said she hopes to do more next year and encourage the community to join in.
“I would like to see a lot more young people get involved,” she said.