A small thank you for a large act of service: La Crosse’s 10th annual Veterans Day Breakfast

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Veterans Day celebrates those who have fought to make our nation a safer place. After a two year break because of COVID-19, Freedom Honor Flight celebrated local veterans in La Crosse at their annual breakfast.

Walking through the halls and into UW-La Crosse Mitchell Hall Fieldhouse, veterans were welcomed with open arms. For Vietnam Veterans, it’s a greeting that had been missing for years after their return.

“They threw eggs and stuff at us, you know,” said Vietnam Veteran Bill McArthur.

McArthur was drafted right out of high school.

“It wasn’t our choice to go over there, you know. We just did our duty, did what we were supposed to do,” said McArthur.

When McArthur returned, he felt his service was something to hide.

“We didn’t want no one to know we were there, but everything has really changed now,” said McArthur.

On Veterans Day, for 10 years, Freedom Honor Flight and UW-La Crosse have celebrated McArthur’s service and the service of other veterans.

“We’ve seen a lot of faces that we recognize. There’s a lot of smiles and waves as we walk in. You remember talking to them at previous breakfasts,” said Freedom Honor Flight president Ryan Clarke.

UW-La Crosse athletes bring breakfast to the veterans.

“The mix of the ages is really kind of neat. You got the 18, 19 year old athletes from campus teaming up with 70, 80 plus year old veterans and stuff,” said co-founder of the breakfast, Pat Stephens.

Clarke says the event is a small thank you to honor those who served.

“A simple breakfast. A simple breakfast, if that’s what it takes today. We can never do enough for what they’ve done for us.”