MISSOULA, Mont. - American Legion members organized a veterans day ceremony that did more than simply honor those who served. The Forgotten Warriors, Post 101 chose a theme for this years ceremony; "The scars that do not heal". This refers to the mental scars veterans experience after returning home from combat. Speeches on the topic were delivered by state and local dignitaries; including Missoula mayor John Engen, Senator Max Baucus, and Lieutenant Governor John Walsh. Each had a story of a veteran in their lives; and touched on the importance of caring for soldiers whose wounds we cannot see.
That theme echoed throughout the ceremony. Vietnam Veteran and ceremony organizer Dan Gallagher spoke about how those who "still hear the guns" lose more than sleep. Their quality of life diminishes, and this can often promote erratic behavior and even thoughts of suicide. Gallagher hopes that the ceremony will help veterans and their families to seek out the resources they need to deal with these hidden wounds.
At the end of the ceremony flowers were laid over an honor table by anyone who wanted to honor a veteran in their life. Among them were a scattering of veterans of World War Two. Most of the veterans from that war who are still alive were teenagers then, forging birth certificates so they could join the service. For these men and women, today is about remembering and honoring their friends.