Veterans Day is the holiday which focuses on living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime, unlike Memorial Day, which is set aside to remember and honor all American veterans who have died in service for their country.
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress later passed a resolution in 1926 to create an annual observance, on Nov. 11, and it became a national holiday in 1938.
According to History.com, there are 18.2 million living veterans who have served during at least one war as of 2018, and this Veterans Day we feature two veterans from Massac County who served our country.
Truman Bremer, one of six brothers, raised in Round Knob, near New Columbia, is the only remaining sibling. At 86 years old he remembers when he was 19 years old, he was one of the youngest to be drafted in Massac County.
Bremer lived on his family's farm and was working at the former Good Luck Glove Factory when he was drafted on May 20, 1952. The next month he turned 20.
"I was young and didn't know what I was getting into," said Bremer, who explained his first stop was to Texas, where he completed 16 weeks of basic training. He was trained in anti aircraft artillery, to shoot machine guns at the enemy.
After basic training, he was stationed in Philadelphia, just as the Korean War was ending. There were no more troops sent to combat so he did not have to go overseas.
His nephew, Stanley Bremer, said his father, Norman Bremer, the oldest of the six brothers, saw combat in World War II, as did his uncle, Lindell Bremer.
His other uncle, Melvin Bremer saw quite a bit of action and heavy combat in the Korean war and another uncle, Robert Bremer was also sent to the Korean War, but it was not until near the end of the war. When Melvin came off the front line, he met with his brother, Robert, somewhere on the battlefield near the demilitarized zone, referred to as the DMZ.
According to Stanley Bremer, his grandfather, Edward Bremer also served in World War I.
Another of the Bremer brothers, Dennis, also served in the Army, but served state side and did not go overseas.
Truman Bremer said after his two years in the Army were over he told them, 'I'm going home.'
He returned to Massac County and was able to get his job back at Good Luck Glove Factory and also helped out on his family's farm.
Bremer said he does remember during basic training, he did not enjoy having kitchen patrol.
For Chris Scott, of Metropolis, who served in Iraqi Freedom, his service in the war was his decision. He graduated from Harrisburg High School and was 19 years old when he decided to join the Illinois National Guard in September 2002.
He made his decision because he wanted to have his college education paid for, but also because he felt the urge to serve, as his grandfather and father both served. "There was a history of serving our country, and I'm proud of my service," he said, also saying the military gave him the tools he needed for his life.
He went to basic training for eight weeks and spent an additional seven weeks of Advanced Individualized Training. Both were done at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After his training he returned to his unit and began college at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg.
He studied science and history and received a degree in public administration. In the summer of 2004 Scott attended a military drill and while there, he found out his unit would be deployed to Iraq. He said an announcement was made they would need 210 people, and there were only 150 at the drill.
"It was a bit of a shock, but of course, you're in the military," he said, so he always knew it would be a possibility.
His rotation began in December 2004 and while in Iraq, he and his platoon worked with the Navy Seals to provide protection to the top five tier one principals in Iraq, including the Iraqi Prime Minister.
According to Scott, they provided a security detail for the convoy, and when they were not providing security they were assisting with route regulations.
The reason for the security was because if one of the guys were to get injured or killed, one sect of the Iraqis could have ended up fighting with another.
Scott says the thing he remembers the most was just being there with all of his guys. "It was the first time our unit had mobilized since the Korean War," he explained. So there were other men and women who he knew from high school and others he had gone to drills with. "They were all local people, from southern Illinois," he said.
Scott said there were some tense moments, such as the time the person he and his men were protecting was ambushed and an assassination attempt was made. He also recalls having seen roadside bombs exploding.
While Scott says he has some mixed emotions about his service, "I'm glad I served," he said, also saying he still talks to members of his platoon. In all there were 120 people in his company and about 30 in his platoon.
"Everybody's experience is different serving our country. That's not a bad thing," said Scott, who says those were a company of heroes, "A group of guys -- men and women you'd lay down your life for."
Scott lives in Metropolis with his wife, Lauren and works in sales for Aramark in Metropolis.