Adjutant General for the State of Ohio Major General John C. Harris Jr. speaks at the Springfield-Clark County 38th Annual Armed Forces Day Luncheon Monday.

Springfield leaders, servicemembers celebrate Armed Forces Day

Springfield and Clark County are patriotic and proud of their long history of military service.

That was the word from Adjutant General for the State of Ohio Maj. Gen. John Harris Jr., who was the keynote speaker for the Springfield-Clark County 38th annual Armed Forces Day Luncheon Monday.

“I love Springfield,” Harris said. “You set such a high standard. When the National Anthem was playing, I saw people who have been out of the military for years in business suits and sports coats snap to attention. That’s our reality and that’s what’s in your DNA here.”

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Active duty members from several military branches attended the luncheon at Hollenbeck Bayley Conference Center in downtown Springfield Monday afternoon. The event was sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Club, Springfield Kiwanis Club, the Springfield Exchange Club and the Mimi Valley Military Affairs Association.

Branches represented were the United States Air Force, United States Air Force Reserve, Ohio Army National Guard and the Ohio Air National Guard. Along with the active duty service members, veterans from many branches also showed.

“The members of the Kiwanis, Rotary, Exchange and MVMAA join in saying “thanks” to the men and women of our armed services,” a pamphlet for the event says.

The annual Armed Forces Day Luncheon began as a Springfield Air National Guard Base initiative in 1982, according to the pamphlet, but soon morphed into a day of celebration for all military personnel. The Armed Forces national holiday will be May 18.

Harris spoke to the active duty members and community leaders and urged them to set a new tone for young people. He said too many times military service is seen as a backup plan to college when in reality it should be a primary aspiration to many young Americans.

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“The first myth we have to destroy is ‘you can do and be anything you want to be in this country,’” Harris said. “That’s true, but I think we have to finish the rest of that story. You can be and do whatever you want in this country if work hard enough in accordance with your gifts.”

He said many young people who would otherwise thrive in the military may opt to go to college instead, doing a disservice to themselves and the county.

Another cliche Harris said is a myth was “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.”

Harris said people have bad days, and the myth is making young people quit at careers too early.

Harris also said young people must stop thinking the world is set up against them and must develop the right attitude to succeed in life.

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