Some Keep Serving The USA In Lifelong Ways

The Fourth of July is a time of pride for service members who love American independence so much, they defend it. We also remember those who gave their lives for that freedom, along with acknowledging groups and individuals who support military representatives and veterans.

USO of Missouri provides services and smiles to 209,000-plus military personnel and their families annually. Joy comes from supporting volunteers who are the lifeblood of the organization, says Karl Lund, local U.S. veteran and former military police officer serving on the USO board.

Lund also is a flight leader and photographer for Greater St. Louis Honor Flight.

What does patriotism mean to you, Karl, especially during the Fourth of July?

Patriotism, by definition, means vigorous support for one’s country. I strongly support this country, but I vigorously support the service members who’ve protected (and still protect) this wonderful country of ours. They mean the world to me. They should mean the world to everyone. The United States isn’t the only country they protect. They deserve everything we give them. They gave us everything.

What is your involvement with Honor Flights?

We take 10 flights per calendar year to Washington, D.C., with 25 World War II or Korean War veterans for them to see the memorials built in their honor. It’s an amazing journey with the true heroes who literally saved the world. These World War II heroes are passing away at a rate of 450 to 550 veterans per day. It’s only a matter of time before they’re all gone. We’re working feverishly to take each of them to see their memorials and help them realize the gravity of their heroic actions.

Karl also is a board member and photographer for Little Patriots Embraced, a group based in Kirkwood whose volunteers take care of the children of deployed and/or deceased American soldiers.

Additionally, he volunteers with Gateway Warrior Foundation, a nonprofit whose representatives raise money to pay for things veterans need, including service dogs.

“I choke up every time I see a veteran with a dog,” Karl says. 

“The importance of celebrating our freedom is without measure. Look at the rolling hills of Arlington National Cemetery and tell me how important it is to celebrate our freedoms. Fathers, uncles, sons, mothers, aunts and daughters lost their lives delivering freedom to the rest of us. This truth shall not be taken lightly and should never be forgotten.”