This weekend, I had the privilege of being invited to the corporate headquarters of United Services Automobile Association (USAA) in San Antonio for a conference geared towards influential bloggers and financial analysts. There were about 30 of us invited, including representatives from the MOAA, Punch Debt in the Face, USO, Money Crashers, G.I. Magazine, and many others.
One of the first we did was attend the annual Veterans Day Ceremony that USAA throws each year. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War, USAA recognized veterans from that conflict. Outside the building, they brought in a Vietnam-era UH-1 Huey to display.
The main atrium was converted into a veteran-centered showcase of flags and vintage military items from the conflict. The main floor was packed with every chair filled and people standing in the back all around the atrium. Hundreds of military, veterans, and USAA employees attended what I think was one of the most moving and inspirational Veterans Day Ceremonies I’ve ever been to. Inspiration Among Us was the theme of USAA’s 2012 Veterans Day Ceremony.
The event started with the presentation of the following moving video titled, “Thank You For Your Service – Celebrating Service“:
I have to admit, I got a little teary eyed watching that. I have a special love for my Vietnam Veteran brothers and sisters. I’ve always tried to go out of my way to recognize them and shake their hands when I see them in public. They fought a war that politicians and the American people no longer supported. Then, they came home to just as much hate as they encountered in the jungles and swamps of Vietnam.
After the video, LTG(R) Mick Kicklighter, Director of the Department of Defense Commemorations Office presented a flag and certificate to USAA for their support to all our vets and their families, but especially our Vietnam Veterans and their families.
I wanted to separate the initial video from the rest of the hour-long program. It was that important to me and stood out enough. Other speakers at the ceremony included CPT Scotty Smiley, a Ranger and combat diver-qualified infantryman. He is the first blind active duty officer as well as its first blind company commander. Kory Brunson sang his popular song “We Know You’re Out There” as well as the “National Anthem.” I had a chance to meet Kory and talk a little about his music and how powerful his voice was. Finally, a video feature called “Passing the Test: The Life & Times of Colonel Bud Day” was played. COL Day was scheduled to be present to speak at the ceremony, but due to poor health, the Medal of Honor recipient was unable to attend.
Here is the one hour ceremony in its entirety. It truly is an event worth sharing and I applaud the time and attention that USAA put into this program to make is a top-rate event. (I make a cameo at 1:05:09)