In honor of Independence Day this week, we would like to share a story for a North Dakota hero. John L. Kuntz retired as a Sargent First Class from the U.S. Army after 23 years of service. John’s connection to Bethany stems from a poster that was sent to him in Iraq (Desert Storm) as solider mail. Residents and staff of Bethany Retirement Living created a poster that was sent to John’s unit stating, “To all our men, women who are serving our country, God bless you, we’re behind you.” The encouraging words on this poster, and other pieces of soldier mail that John received, made such a lasting impact on him that he still owns them to this day.
John explained, while the conditions in Iraq were not ideal, the messages from home were always encouraging. Some of the conditions John recalled were long days that could range from 16 to 24-hour work shifts, using outdoor toilets, sleeping in tents, battling sickness due to environment changes, and bathing in small tubs the size of their duffel bags. The work was hard, but the freedom was worth it. The soldier mail they received was always motivating and empowered them with genuine concern. In John’s experience, he found that many people in the military do not have large extended families, so receiving encouragement from your home state like John did from North Dakota through Bethany is special to soldiers.
John explained that Independence Day holds an important significance, as it marks the beginning of a life no other society on Earth has ever had before, because of its complete freedom. He encourages all people to honor veterans by recognizing their sacrifice for the country, as well as by taking time to thank veterans for their time and service.