Wayne Scott, who works for HMC Hospice of the Western Reserve pins Air Force veteran Al Franz as Army veteran Stan Wolczyk, sitting, waits for his name to be called. ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE
WADSWORTH — To get the true meaning of what Veterans Day means to veterans, it’s best to go right to the source of that service.
On Thursday, local veterans at an event at the Soprema Senior Center shared their stories.
“Nam was going at the time and the draft was going. I knew I was going to get drafted,” said 66-year-old veteran James Kreuscher. “So, I joined the Navy and I was at a naval air station in southern Maryland. I served eight years.”
Kreuscher said that although his time serving wasn’t always a good time, it was educational and it helped him to grow up.
He chose to join because he knew he would get drafted anyway and he wanted to make the choice to join rather than having someone chose for him.
“I think veterans ought to be recognized,” he said. “I’m happy that veterans are honored and I believe that they should be… I’m proud to be a veteran and I’m proud that veterans are getting a day (to be recognized).”
Thursday’s event was similar to one held Wednesday at Williams on the Lake in Medina. Hospice of Medina County and Hospice of Western Reserve partnered with Soprema Senior Center in Wadsworth to host a pinning ceremony to honor veterans. Cookies and drinks were served, the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem were recited and poems were read.
ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE Veterans were able to enjoy cookies and fellowship after the pinning ceremony at the Soprema Center in Wadsworth on Thursday.
After each veteran received a pin and an award, many relaxed and socialized and some opened up about their stories and what Veterans Day means to them.
Sue Rasor-Greenhalgh, a 64-year-old Army veteran, joined the Army in order to get trained as a dietitian.
“I wanted to serve my country and I wanted to get my education … it was the best training that I could’ve had,” she said. “I think, other than having my kids, my military time is the thing that I am happiest I did and the thing I am most proud of.”
After her time in the Army, she worked in the Army Reserves from which she retired. She and her husband now attend events at the Soprema Senior Center.
“For me personally, I think it’s really important … the older I get the more honored I am of it,” said Rasor-Greenhalgh. “Veterans kind of have a special bond so it’s really important to bring them together and to have these opportunities to share and laugh and to tell your war story … those memories are so critical and we don’t want to lose them.”
After the veterans had time to eat their cookies, share stories and catch up with each other, a short video of 100-year-old veteran Stan Wolczyk speaking was shown.
Wolczyk served during World War II in the Aleutian Islands, a chain of volcanic islands in Alaska. During his video, he shared a story about when he was on a mission to take over a ridge one day.
He said that he came across another young soldier who was injured and partially covered in snow. According to Wolczyk, he held the soldier’s hand after which the soldier began to cry.
According to Wolczyk, he likes to think they were tears of joy over the fact that he had been found and were not alone. Wolczyk said that the man squeezed his hand and gave him a smile before dying.
“I see that boy every year,” he said in regards to the soldier he encountered. “He’s still holding my hand there are still tears on his face.”
After the video was finished, Wolczyk said that people forget the sacrifices made by soldiers too soon, and that’s why it’s important to have recognition events.
“The hardest part is when you’re in enemy territory and people are shooting and you’re shooting back and you’re killing people,” said Wolcyzk. “That’s not the way people are made. … Honor them, period. Honor the soldier. He did something that’s not natural, really.”