LAKE MILLS — Capt. Joan Platz, the second-highest ranking woman in the Navy, told those gathered at a Veterans Day ceremony in her hometown of Lake Mills Friday that she grew up surrounded by heroes.
“To be honest, I didn’t always know it at the time,” she said.
But when she came home for a visit after graduating from college, she came across an old copy of the Lake Mills Graphic newspaper that was a commemorative issue for World War II veterans.
As she looked at all the pictures of local veterans, she recognized many of the faces.
“I knew them as my neighbors and my teachers,” she said.
She also thought about how hard those left on the homefront had to work. She said many women in those days had to be both a mother and a father as well as hold down a job.
“Everyone in our country truly sacrificed for that war, and they do for all wars,” she said.
Platz, the commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Fla., entered the Naval Academy in 1977 after graduating from Lake Mills High School.
“It wasn’t really a normal thing for a young girl to be doing,” she said. However, no one in Lake Mills discouraged her from doing so.
Platz said Veterans Day got its start in 1938, but when President Franklin Roosevelt made the declaration, he called it Armistice Day.
Platz pointed out that armistice means a state of peace declared between two opponents.
On Veterans Day, a time set aside to thank veterans, the greatest way to do this is “to talk about peace,” Platz said.