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Citizenship is earned, veterans told at LWC Luncheon
Over 130 attend 7th Annual Event honoring veterans
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Click here for Veterans Day 2009 Album + Links
By Duane Bonifer, LWC Director of Public Relations
COLUMBIA, Ky. -- Americans must work every day to earn their citizenship.
That was the message more than 130 area veterans, their guests and veterans' survivors received Tuesday at Lindsey Wilson College's seventh-annual Veterans Luncheon.
"We are born American, but every day we must work to earn our citizenship," Marine veteran Lukas Dwelly said in the keynote talk.
Currently director of major gifts for the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Dwelly graduated from Nelson County (KT) High School on a Friday night and then reported to the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in Paris Island, S.C., the following Monday morning.
During his four years of service, Dwelly served as an elite recon Marine and deployed as an infantry squad leader aboard the USS Guam, where he participated in support of military operations in the Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the Persian Gulf.
Dwelly said his role model was his late father, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
"He taught me that the United States is the last best hope for humanity to live in peace," Dwelly said.
Dwelly said he realized what it meant to serve his country one day when he was coming back to Kentucky via the Atlanta airport.
A stranger bought him lunch and several passersby nodded to him as he walked through the airport in his uniform."I knew then that I had earned my citizenship," Dwelly said.
Dwelly used the G.I. Bill to earn a bachelor's degree from the University of Louisville, and he later earned a master's degree in public administration from U of L.
"My journey is not about the four years I spent in the Marine Corps -- it's about 10 years after the fact, about what I've become," he said.
It's that ability to transform your life is what makes America great, Dwell said.
"As Ronald Reagan said, 'America represents something universal in the human spirit,'" he said. "He once said, 'You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won't become a German or a Turk.' But then he added, 'Anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American.'"
This story was posted on 2009-11-11 06:39:32
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