Originally known as Armistice Day and established in 1919 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the ending of World War I, the federal holiday observed every Nov. 11 is now known as Veterans Day, honoring all those who have served their country in the military. 

Instead of having students take the day off, some local school choose to honor those who have served with special programs.

One of the largest programs is hosted at Riverside-Brookfield High School with an all-school assembly where veterans and active-duty military are as honored guests. Following that program, some of the vets go to individual classrooms to visit with the students, relate their military experiences and answer questions. 

One of the stories is as follows. As a young recruit in the Air Force, the local airman was sent to Indiana University to study Russian as he prepared to become an Air Force intelligence analyst. 

His mission sent him to Hokkaido, Japan, at the island’s northernmost tip where they could see Russia from their post. They would be tracking Russian aircraft and on June 16, 1963, they tracked the flight of the first female Russian cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova. It has always made for an interesting story, since at that time women were not common as astronauts in Russia or the United States. 

Upon his return to the United States, the airman would be stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska. Offutt was a strategic Air Force base where he would be a photo interpreter, his use of Russian put to the side. He liked conveying to the high school students the importance of the mission and how he met then President Lyndon Johnson.

The Airman First Class I write about is Joe Kosey, also known in this space as Husband Joe. Thanks for your service to our country, Joe.

I encourage you to attend one of the many programs presented locally and you can contact your local school to learn of any plans. Also thank a veteran, not just on Veterans Day but anytime there is an opportunity to let them know how we appreciate what they have done to allow us to have the freedoms we possess.

And don’t forget to vote. It is one of the most important freedoms we have and was worth fighting for. Early voting has begun so you have many opportunities to exercise your right.