“We’ve been serving veterans for over 155 years here in Dayton, we were one of the first three original VAs, and we’ve been here longer than Veterans Day has been established,” Murdock said Saturday. “We’re just so grateful to be able to honor veterans in this way and we think there’s no more appropriate place than the Dayton VA.”
Murdock said Veterans Day serves as a day to memorialize the freedoms bestowed upon Americans as a result of the sacrifices of those who serve.
“Memorial Day is about death and honoring the dead, but Veterans Day is really about honoring life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.
Kathleen Hayes and Kathy Cunningham met in the mid 1980s while working as combat support nurses in the Army. The two served for decades, having retired after 35 and 26 years, respectively.
Cunningham said combat support nurses step in when troops are deployed. “The active Army would be sent out and we’d go to all the bases and take their places while they went to war,” she said.
Their experiences as support nurses also involved constructing and working within temporary hospitals, Hayes said. “We’d have three days to put up the hospital (equipped with an operating room, pharmacy, and hundreds of beds) in the desert, or wherever, then we were expected to be doctors and nurses,” she said.
Murdock said past Veterans Day celebrations at the VA typically consisted of an event held in the auditorium. Once COVID hit, these celebrations went virtual.
“This year, we were able to do both virtual and in-person,” Murdock said. “Our team did a lot of work to make this come together and we’re grateful for the turnout.”