On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the world rejoiced as an armistice was signed, ending the "war to end all wars." The following year, Nov. 11 was set aside as Armistice Day a day to honor the men and women who gave their lives to serve their country during World War I. The day continued to be observed after World War II, but in 1953 congress passed a bill to rename the federal holiday as Veteran's Day. Finally, in 1971 President Nixon declared the holiday to be the second Monday in November. I enjoy living in peace and freedom because brave soldiers were willing to give their lives to preserve these priceless treasures for me.
Recently, I spoke with veteran Shawn Crabb, who served the country during Operation Desert Storm. Shawn the son of a chief master sergeant was born on a military base in Huntingdonshire, UK. While he was young, his family moved to Michigan where he grew up and enjoyed fishing in the Great Lakes with his father and grandfather. Shawn first came to Alaska in 1993 when he was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base.
While stationed there, love for fishing drew Shawn to Ninilchik, and after several years of recreational fishing Shawn got licensed and opened a halibut fishing guide service.
In 1996, Shawn met his wife, Cindy, who grew up in Anchorage and worked for the Anchorage Police Department as senior dispatch and acting supervisor. Now that she is retired from the APD, she enjoys gourmet cooking and recently became an independent consultant with a national direct-sales company featuring easy-to-prepare gourmet products that are taste-tested at home parties.
The couple bought a home in Ninilchik and Shawn commutes to Anchorage as he works as an ICU critical care technician at the joint venture hospital (part VA and part Defense) on Elmendorf. Shawn has a unique position using his paramedic skills as well as his military experience. He said he and Cindy love living in a small community and it is worth commuting to Anchorage every four days to be able to live here.
"Here, everyone knows everyone but in the city, you don't even know your neighbor's name," he said.
Shawn also said he feels that people in small towns such as ours tend to live sheltered and detached from the reality of war.
"At the VA hospital, I see victims of war return from overseas hobbling on crutches or suffering from major injuries," he said.
He said if anyone wanted to send a note of encouragement or even a Christmas card to the wounded, he could get in the hands of the right people.
On Thursday area home-school students will present a patriotic program to honor veterans at the Ninilchik Senior Citizen's Center at 11:30 a.m.
Whenever you see a veteran, you may want to thank them.
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