Rotarians speak on military service to U.S.

CROWLEY – For five Rotarians, Independence Day is a special holiday because they know too well the cost of freedom.

“We don’t know where we are now; we don’t realize the tremendous advantages and opportunities that we have by being where we are,” said Ralph Cowen.

Cowen along with fellow Rotarians Dr. Bo McNeely, Lee Wright, Dwayne Fulton and Van Landry, spoke to the Rotary Club of Crowley about their time in the military, the United States and freedom just ahead of the nation’s 236th birthday.

Cowen spent part of his time emphasizing what three others had said before him, focusing on how lucky Americans are and how serving overseas gives those who serve a better understanding of that.

The first to speak was McNeely who talked about his time in the service and wrapped up his speech by talking about what being an American meant to him.

“Many thoughts came to mind, but mainly its pride,” he said. “I’m proud to be an American because I don’t think there’s any country in the history of the world that has exceeded us.”

McNeely also spoke about the security he feels living in the U.S. and the gratitude he has for living here and so on.

“Overall, I’m just mighty proud to be an American,” he said. “I like to call myself a patriot and I think that begins at an early age.”

Next up was Lee Wright, who briefly went over his military history before turning his attention to what he decided to focus his time on.

“I really didn’t want to talk about my service so much as a couple of other things,” he said.

“One, the support of the troops, particularly in this area, is unparalleled. ... But, what’s really difficult, the people who need support is the families back here­–the moms, the dads, the siblings, the spouses, the children–those are the ones that need it.”

Wright then turned his attention to a thought echoed by Fulton about understanding how lucky Americans are after spending time overseas.

“Until you actually get overseas and you see some places where the freedoms that a lot of us take for granted they don’t have, that’s when you really start to appreciate the stars and stripes and what you live for,” said Fulton. “That’s really eye opening.”

Last to speak was Landry, who spoke about all that he learned through the military and his service and how much he enjoyed each opportunity to learn.

“It was a tremendous time, because, again, I was learning, which I enjoyed,” he said. “The learning is one of those things that keeps going.”

Landry also put a bow on the Fourth of July holiday’s importance that each Rotarian mentioned in some fashion.

“Tomorrow [the Fourth of July], is a wonderful day we can think about all of these people that are here,” he said. “It’s one of those things we can’t think enough about.”

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