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Thank a Veteran Today, and Every Day

Commander Rich Wiley runs flight operations on the USS Vinson

Remember to Thank a Veteran on Nov. 11

I have never served in the military. But Nov. 11 is still a very special day to me. In the U.S. it is called Veteran’s Day, in the U.K. and other places it is known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.

As a father of four, a husband, an adopted American, the grandson of two WWII veterans—one decorated with the Burma Star—and as someone who grew up surrounded by the men and women of the British military, I try to go out of my way to thank anyone I discover has served or is serving. In my opinion, anyone who volunteers to put their life on the line for my freedoms deserves any honor I can bestow on them.

And I would encourage you to do the same.

I work every day with veterans who work next to me here at Monsanto. And I recently had the privilege of spending some time with the officers and crew of the USS Carl Vinson, and also members of the Blue Angels, and the caliber of men and women who serve is incredible. And I also discovered, while talking to those currently serving on the USS Vinson, some of them bring the values they learned on the farm into their military service.

“I helped in the cotton fields and in the grain fields,” Petty Officer Stephen Hale, from Aranas Pass, Texas, told me. “We worked 14-hour days just walking up and down whacking weeds.”

“I worked on an Angus cattle farm,” Petty Officer Eric McLane, from Thomaston, Georgia, said. “During the summer it’s a lot of hours. Sometimes sun up to sun down.”

And it’s the hard work growing up on the farm that most of the farm kids I talked to stressed as preparing them for the Navy.

“Work ethic definitely transfers,” Petty Officer Benjamin Taylor said. Taylor grew up on a farm in Indiana. “You give 110 percent everyday, just like you did growing up, because everything you have to do really matters.”

Hale agreed. “It feels good to get your hands dirty and realize I worked hard today.”

And this work ethic and commitment gets noticed, at the highest levels.

“This young generation has a real desire to serve, whether it’s serving in the military or whether it’s serving in some other capacity, more so than I’ve ever seen before,” Rear Admiral Ted Branch, commander of Carrier Strike Group One, said while we were sitting in his briefing room. “They’re interesting in doing something, giving something back. People are getting their money’s worth, at least as far as the USS Carl Vinson is concerned, with the people that are on it and the job they are doing.”

And the farm work ethic goes beyond the junior officers we sat down with. Commander Rich “Coyote” Wiley, also known as the Air Boss who is responsible for flight operations on the aircraft carrier, was also a farm kid—growing up on a vegetable farm in California.

And even though these sailors are far away from the land they grew up on, putting their lives on the line for their country, you can tell their hearts are not far from the farm.

“It’s one of those things that once you get it in your blood, it’s always there,” Taylor said. “You long for [the farm]. To be able to wake up, and hear the creek a half-a-mile away. The quiet. The serenity of it all.”

I’ve been told many times, the simple act of thanking a veteran is an incredible thing to them. So this Nov. 11, please go out of your way to thank every veteran you know, from whatever country you live in, for their service to their country and to you.

Mark Sutherland is a Monsanto communications team lead living in Missouri.

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