The U.P. State Fair rolled out the red carpet for veterans and their families, this morning, to honor the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep America safe.
Residents hailing from cities across the state filled the stands at Michigan’s lone state fair to see who would be crowned U.P. veteran of the year on Military Appreciation Day. Every year the U.P. Veterans Committee combs through a list of candidates, judging each anonymous applicant on their military merit and social service. Phil Taskila received this year’s highest score for his decorated service in the Vietnam War where he received a number of awards including the Bronze Star and a National Defense Medal.
“It’s an honor to have gotten the award. It’s nice to know that some people appreciate what you’ve been doing. Just wish I could be doing more, of course, but one guy can only do so much,” noted Taskila, a member of VFW Post 3165 and the 1985 U.P. Chess Champion. “That’s why we need the help of all those that are eligible to come and give us hand and help these disabled and homeless veterans. We honor the dead by serving the living. That’s what the VFW motto is. The Legion and the Marine Corps League, we’re all out there doing our thing. It’s unfortunate that there are people that need our help, but somebody has do it and we’re more than happy to comply.”
Governor Rick Snyder awarded Taskila with a plaque commemorating his service, alongside Congressman Dan Benishek and Senator Tom Casperson. It’s been a busy week in the U.P. for Governor Snyder, but this is an event that he always makes time for.
“Well, it’s critically important. We need to take say ‘Thank You’ to the veterans and support them with good services. Just this last year, we got accredited by the federal government to help process claims to help our veterans. That’s going to make a huge difference,” said Snyder, who urges Michigan businesses to hire veterans.
Taskila will use his new moniker to raise awareness for the needs of veterans past, present and future at VFW posts throughout the state.