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University of Central Missouri
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Veterans Worthy of Understanding, Respect, Appreciation, Speaker Says

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Nov. 12, 2014) –  In a day dedicated to honoring the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to the United States, Col. Gary D. Gilmore told an audience at the University of Central Missouri  the best way to honor veterans is through “understanding, respect, and appreciation.”

Gilmore, who has been a Missouri National Guard chaplain since 1987, was the keynote speaker during the Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11 in Hendricks Hall.  The event was coordinated by UCM’s Office of Military and Veteran Services, and included a welcome by President Charles Ambrose, and a Moment of Honor to those Fallen by Lt. Col. Philp Dan Cureton, department chair and professor of military science. Members of Whiteman Air Force Base and the Missouri National Guard also had roles in the ceremony.


With a World War I photo of his father in the background, Col. Gary D. Gilmore, chaplain in the Missouri National Guard, presented the keynote address during the Veterans Day observance at the University of Central Missouri Nov. 11.

In his remarks, Gilmore told the story about his grandfather, Pvt. Elmer Christensen, who at the age of 18, served in World War I. The guest speaker traced his grandfather’s path from a small Minnesota community to Europe, where he served as an Army engineer, helping to build roads and bridges that were essential to moving infantry and equipment into battle.  As Gilmore spoke, he shared photographs depicting numerous military scenes and he read snippets from a diary his grandfather kept during the war.

“Guns stopped firing at 11 a.m., everybody happy,” Gilmore said, as he read what his grandfather wrote on Armistice Day Nov. 11, 1918.

After sharing the story of his grandfather’s life and his military experience, Gilmore then asked the audience, “Could I draw from Elmer’s story three simple requests when you think of Veterans on Veterans Day? We owe our veterans understanding, respect and appreciation.”

“By understanding, you’ve heard the definition of a veteran as the guy who wrote a blank check to America.

He wrote out ‘Pay USA’ and put a date on it and signed his name at the bottom and handed it over. From there, it is up to the nation to decide what debt will be charged. What will be the draft on his account?”

“What matters to us is that you understand the risk that we put ourselves in so that other people can do as they please with their lives,” Gimore said. “Secondly, once you kind of get to that, I think you can show respect.”

“I’m always thankful when people thank me for my service. But I really believe the greatest appreciation you can show a veteran is to do something significant with your own life. You don’t have to be great, you don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be a hero, but you do need to live with passion and with purpose,” Gimore told the audience.

He added, “I believe it is a dishonor to our veterans and to the Lord when we think small. When we dream tiny, little self-centered dreams, when we choose to be mediocre when we’ve been given the opportunity to be something great.”

“America gave my grandpa a broom and a bucket and a bunch of rocks. He didn’t get to go to college when he was 18 years old, and it wasn’t because of his socioeconomic background. It was because the world was in a fight to the death,” Gilmore said. “When I look at him today, I say he took the opportunity he was given and he helped build freedom’s road. He and so many others created the opportunity for us to be here today, and gave us the privilege of choosing what we wanted to do in our own lives. So I would ask you, don’t just put a yellow ribbon or bumper sticker on your car, and don’t honk if you like veterans. That’s all okay. But do more. Live it out. Show veterans by the way you live that you are proud to be an American.”

Gilmore stressed that people in the United States must take advantage of the freedom they have been afforded by the sacrifices of veterans.

“If you think there is something wrong with our country, by all means get involved and make it right. If you don’t like the economy, start a business, make it stronger. If you’re tired of hearing about sickness, illness and disease, let’s get into the healthcare field.”

“You don’t have to join the military, but you got to be on the team. Join an organization on campus or get involved in the chamber of commerce or the local school system. Coach a little league team, be a Big Brother, open a not-for-profit,” Gilmore said.

He stressed the scars of war reinforce the sacrifices made by veterans who care about their country and its people.

“I say to you today when you see the broken bodies of our veterans, when you see prosthetic limbs, you’re seeing somebody, who by the deeds of their life, has looked at you as an American and said ‘you’re worth it.’”

“As you and I often do, talk to a spouse or someone who is broken in spirit, and struggling with the internal, hidden wounds of war, behind what is going on in that person’s life is a message that says to you and me, they think we are worth it. When you go to a veterans cemetery like in Higginsville or in Springfield or the national cemetery in Leavenworth and look out over those white tombstones, the message that sends back to us is ‘you are worth it America.’”