SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Sunday is Veterans Day, but what does that actually mean for those who've served? Friday night KELOLAND News posed that question at VFW Post 628 in Sioux Falls to two men who served the country in different conflicts during fundamentally different times. Their answers about what Veterans Day means today in 2018 are as distinctly different as the time periods and conflicts in which they served.
93-year-old Doug Starr of Sioux Falls served in the navy in World War II and Korea. He says now, Veterans Day is bigger.
"I think it's beginning to mean more than it did when I was a new veteran 50 years ago, because there was so many of us," Starr said.
Many years have since passed.
"But now, there are fewer of us, and [World] War II people are dying off like crazy," Starr said.
He says the celebration of Veterans Day is different now than it used to be.
"Because back then there was not all of this hoo-ra and shaking hands and all that sort of thing. You're a veteran? Okay sure, you're a veteran," Starr said.
69-year-old Mark Williamson of Garretson served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam. He is a Purple Heart recipient. He says the meaning of Veterans Day can be lost.
"I just feel that it's become more of a good day to get out of school or get off work, more so than what the actual meaning of Veterans Day is, and that's to honor those who have served, and those who have gone before us," Williamson said.
Williamson and Starr are veterans of different conflicts.
"World War I, World War II, those guys were well-respected. They were known," Williamson said. "They came back to their communities. They knew where you had been."
A far cry from the Vietnam War.
"When we first came home, you didn't even want people to know you were a Vietnam veteran," Williamson said. "'Cause you weren't very well-respected back then or welcomed."
Williamson wants veterans to receive more respect.
"If it weren't for the veterans of today and the veterans of the past, there probably would be no tomorrow. So I just don't think that the proper respect is shown to veterans. I think maybe it's getting better," Williamson said.