STURGIS, S.D. – What does it mean to be a VETERAN? What is Veterans Day, exactly? Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, observed annually on Nov. 11 – commemorating the end of major hostilities in World War 1 in 1918 on the 11th hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month….it was known as Armistice Day until 1954, when Congress renamed it to Veterans Day, honoring all Veterans of our great Nation.
Our communities in South Dakota are full of Veterans. Your banker, your Nurse at the local hospital, your insurance agent, the local electrician, many of them have served the United States of America in uniform, but because they are humble, so you’ve never heard them talk about their service. Veterans Day is the day to thank them for raising their right hand and serving our Nation.
Bud Kopp is a local Veteran here in Sturgis. Bud served in the United States Army in Vietnam as a helicopter door gunner and as an infantryman. Bud completed two combat tours in Vietnam and then came home to South Dakota and had a long career at the Homestake Mine in Lead. Bud has been married to his bride, Arlene, for 56 years. They raised three children and have eight grandchildren and Bud continues to serve our community at the Food Pantry, the Knights of Columbus and on the Sturgis Honor Guard, where he pays tribute to fallen Veterans as a member of the funeral detail.
“I just love it,” Kopp said. “Tt’s not a fun thing, it’s just gratifying. I’ve been doing it for 20 years and I think I’ve done approximately 2500 funerals and I’ll continue doing it.”
When asked what it means to be a Veteran, Bud had a one-word answer – “FREEDOM”.
Freedom….it isn’t free. The freedom that many Americans take for granted has been secured by millions of their fellow countrymen and women, willing to put their lives on the line to protect that FREEDOM. Today, we honor Bud Kopp, resident of Sturgis, husband, father, grandfather, and Vietnam Veteran for his service to our great Nation.