Celebrating Veterans on Island
By Keziah Rutschow, Reporter
Veterans Day, recognized on November 11th, is a day to honor and celebrate military veterans. The holiday originated in 1919 and was called Armistice Day(the first anniversary after world war I ended), but it became Veterans Day in 1954.
The day means many different things to veterans and people enlisted in the military. For VHS English teacher Gavin Kovite, Veterans Day stems from a sense of patriotism with the image of honor and glory.
“To me, it’s about the adventure, the glory, the service and the brotherhood, the sisterhood, right, and arms,” Kovite said.
Following the footsteps of his dad and grandfather, Kovite joined the army right after high school.
Kovite began serving in the National Guard infantry, then in Iraq as a platoon leader, infantry officer, and imagery. He now is a part-time JAG (Army Judge Advocate General).
Going into the military right out of high school can be scary, but Kovite has encouraging words to people who might be nervous.
“Courage can be developed, and it comes from facing things … Humans can overcome a great deal that you don’t think you can overcome; humans are very antifragile in the sense that stress makes you stronger,” Kovite said.
While some join right out of high school like Kovite, there is always the option to join the military later in life. Scott Ingalls an islander, joined the military when he was 41, he served in electronic surveillance and as a sergeant of the Non-Commissioned Officer Corps.
“There’s just 101 ways to get hurt in the army. And that’s just in your barracks. It’s a rough and tumbles life; they push you, and young people bounce back better than older people,” Ingalls said.
Ingalls believes Veterans day is a day of celebration as Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the fallen.
“I will say that Veterans Day means a lot less to me than Memorial Day… and truly, truly, everyone who went [to Afghanistan] endured a level of hardship and sacrifice. I would just hope that people appreciate what veterans do,” Ingalls said.
Mattingly served in the Naval Submarine Reserve from 1964-1970 during the Vietnam War, spending two of those years serving the same time as his brother. He believes the military is a great learning opportunity for young adults.
“ I think [the military] was a good training ground for young people when they got out of high school… They could find something to latch on to, and they could learn something, I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for people,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly reflected on what Veterans Day meant to him, as not only a day to reflect, but a day to celebrate with veterans in your community.
“[Veterans Day is] to celebrate the service [Veterans] have performed. And have everybody go ahead and celebrate that with us because it’s a critical part of freedom. And without the military, we wouldn’t have that freedom. And so you reflect on the good times and pull the positive out of it and keep on going,” Mattingly said.