Farm Bureau leaders who spoke during the two-hour event made sure the veterans who participated understood the salute was about them and not Farm Bureau.
“It’s a privilege for Farm Bureau to welcome you. Many of you thanked us but it’s our privilege for us here at Farm Bureau to say, thank you,” said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Bryan Searle, a potato farmer from Shelley. “Thank you for your service. We love and appreciate you.”
The Salute to Idaho Veterans, which honors the service of U.S. military veterans, was held at the Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Idaho building in Pocatello.
The event is held the Friday before Veteran’s Day to not interfere with the events held on that day by veterans’ organizations.
The Salute to Idaho Veterans includes a flag ceremony, a guest speaker, a free veteran group photo and individual photos for each veteran, and a complimentary Salute to Idaho Veterans commemorative coin.
“As you came through and received your coins this morning, I looked straight into your eyes and I tried to imagine what you sacrificed, what your spouse, family and friends sacrificed, for you to serve so that I and others can enjoy those freedoms we have in this great country,” Searle said. “So I say, thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for what you have done for this country.”
The Salute to Idaho Veterans is a special event for everyone at Farm Bureau and employees organize it, said Todd Argall, chief executive officer of Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Idaho.
“This is a really important event for all of us here at Farm Bureau,” he said. “For the Farm Bureau family, this is the highlight of their year. We respect and honor our veterans and everything you’ve given to our country.”
The guest speaker of the event was former Green Beret Nate Boyer, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan during his 10-year Army career.
After his military career, Boyer in 2015, at the age of 34, became the oldest rookie ever in the National Football League.
He gave an enthralling account of his military days and subsequent unlikely football career as a long snapper for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks to back up his belief that “anything is possible.”
Despite never playing a down of organized football prior to his time in the military, Boyer began playing college football for the Texas Longhorns at the age of 29.
He attributed his success as a long snapper to the discipline and various principles he learned during his time in the military.
“I’m always proud to be here with those who have served,” Boyer said at the end of his presentation. “I’m proud to be here with you guys.”
The three winners of Farm Bureau’s Veterans Day essay contest for students read their winning entries during the event.
“My dad’s military service means sacrifice. It means we have to sacrifice and give up our dad to go on deployment to protect our country,” wrote Lydia Brown, a third grader from Mountain Home Air Force base, who won the 1st-6th grade category in the essay contest.
“Sometimes I wonder why he has to be away, even though I already know the answer,” Brown wrote. “Military service is a sacrifice of time.”
Tenth-grader Dakota Hutchings of Rupert, who won the 10th-12th grade category of the essay contest, wrote about his grandfather’s service during the Vietnam War.
He saluted his grandfather and the other men and women who have fought on the battlefield.
“They stepped in when no one else would,” he wrote. “I salute the courageous soldiers who have lived and died on the battlefield and given up their lives to save others … These patriots are the foundation of the United States and our lives. My hope is to live a life that is worth their sacrifice.”
Joy Hibbert, an eighth grader from Pocatello who won the 7th-9th grade category, has had many family members, including her father and grandfather, serve in the military.
From her family’s military service, “I have learned that freedom is not free and that many people give their lives for our country’s freedom,” she wrote … “Freedom is not free. It comes at a great price.”