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Veterans Day speaker honors the college-age soldier

BOONE—Former U.S. Army Special Forces member Eric Loew put a contemporary face on Veterans Day during a ceremony held Nov. 5 at Appalachian State University.

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“As I speak these words, young men and women are serving the armed forces to keep us safe,” Loew said. “Many are the same age as most of the students here at Appalachian State University. These soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are in the farthest corners of the globe, far from the home they have sworn to protect. They serve with honor and live by values we would all do well to emulate. Answering our country’s call during war says more about them then I ever could.”

Loew is one of 352 students receiving veterans’ education benefits to attend Appalachian. He first enrolled at Appalachian in 1982 and enlisted in the Army in 1986.

During his 23-year military career, Loew was an M1 tank crewman assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., a gunner on an M1A1 tank and a Special Forces weapons sergeant and a team sergeant of a Special Forces Team with the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. He led two deployments to Afghanistan and also served in Iraq in addition to other international and national assignments. He was Battalion Command Sergeant Major of the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion before retiring from the military.

Loew spoke of the challenges facing today’s soldier serving in Afghanistan. “He faces incredible danger – danger from an enemy that does not wear a uniform or worse, one who wears the uniform of an ally,” he said. “As our country enters its 11th year in the war in Afghanistan, he may even question why he is there at all; regardless, he is still there while we stay safe. He is on watch every day and every night defending us.”

Many will pay the ultimate price and lose their lives for their country, or return to the U.S. with wounds – both physical and mental, Loew said. It’s the responsibility of those who aren’t in the military is to remember those who are when viewing the U.S. flag, he said. When gathering with friends and family during the holidays, Loew said to remember those who are away from their family, the pain of the widow, the children who will never know a parent, and the parents who lost a son or daughter serving in uniform.

Loew also said it was important to be informed of world events and how they affect U.S. interests and ask if military intervention in a conflict with its related loss in human life is a price worth paying.

“Make no mistake; it is a privilege to wear the uniform, but you all must remember the toll it takes on those who serve,” he said.