Drury alum talks about his Iraq-Afghanistan experiences at college's Veterans Day ceremony

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. This year's Veterans Day holds extra special significance because it was on November 11, 1918, 100 years ago on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, that the armistice agreement between Germany and the Allied nations ended World War One.

In 1954, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to honor all of our veterans.

And on Monday, the federal holiday marking Veterans Day, Drury University held a ceremony sponsored by the school's Student Veterans of America to honor military service personnel at the O'Reilly Family Event Center.

John Pope is a financial advisor for Edward Jones in Rogersville. But the Drury alum was at his alma mater on Monday to remind us all of how fortunate we are to enjoy the freedom we frequently take for granted.

"I've always grown up knowing that just because I was born in the United State I automatically won the lottery," Pope said.

But Pope chose to pay back his winnings by enlisting in the Army in 1998 and over the next seven years served in Iraq and Afghanistan during some of the most emotionally traumatic moments in our nation's history.

"When 9-11 happened I was very close to getting out but I couldn't fathom letting the men that I trained with going to war without me," he recalled. "So I gladly re-enlisted to go fight with them."

As Pope recounted memories of his military life, it was easy to understand how virtually everyone who defends our country in combat goes through experiences that forever changes their perspective on life.

And that one day a year is not nearly enough to remember that sacrifice.

"I think every day we should remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we remain free," Pope said. "I wear a bracelet with some of the guys I lost during the war in letting people know that great men and women went out and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be free."