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Bradley champions veterans' causes, details experiences in Vietnam War
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Check today’s Antigo Daily Journal’s letters to the editor column and you will see a familiar sight: a letter from Steve Bradley extolling all to honor veterans and the flag as Nov. 11 approached.

It is a time for our country to celebrate the service of all United States veterans and salute the dedicated men and women of our armed services, Bradley writes. Our freedom isn’t free, and we owe them all an enduring debt of gratitude.

Bradley has for decades penned short letters to the Journal in advance of patriotic holidays and anniversaries, urging people to show proper respect to the nation’s symbol.

And he usually includes a tiny bit of history, noting in today’s letter that Veterans Day coincides with Armistice Day, which is still observed in other countries around the globe. It commemorates the anniversary of the end of World War 1. The United States observed Armistice Day until 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill into law, proclaiming it as Veterans Day.

Bradley says the tradition dates from the 1970s, after he had returned home from Vietnam and was marching in Antigo’s Memorial Day parade.

People were not putting their hand over their hearts when the flag passed, he says. I wondered ‘who’s been telling them to do that?’ and wrote a letter to the editor. That’s how it started.

Figuring a rate of three or four a year, several hundred letters—all unfailingly polite and to-the-point—have followed.

People come up to me and say they like them because of their brevity, Bradley said. And it is still a good reminder.

The letters are just a tiny example of a life of service ingrained deep into Bradley’s psyche.

An Antigo native, Bradley, son of John and Betty, is part of a large family, all high-achievers, who moved through the St. John Catholic Church and school system, Antigo High School, and various forms of higher education.

He never questioned the need for service, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, a World War I veteran, and his father, who was among the World War II Iwo Jima flag-raisers and who subsequently collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for the effort through war bond tours.

Bradley graduated in 1967, among the nation’s most tumultuous eras in the wake of assassinations and protests over the Vietnam War. It would have been easy to be a cynic.

It was my turn to serve my country, Bradley said. My grandfather and my father did their obligation to the country and then went on with their lives.

After a summer of work and play at Bass Lake Golf Course, he entered Marine Corps basic training.

My dad didn’t want me to be a Marine, he said go into the Navy because you always had a cot and a hot meal, Bradley recalled. But I just wanted to be a Marine. About a year after we had that conversation, I was sleeping in the rain on a hill in Vietnam.

Three-and-a-half months into his tour, Bradley, a private first class, was at his commander’s side when the officer was killed in a firefight. The young Marine radioed for air cover and ordered his unit to fall back before being struck by a Viet Cong bullet.

It felt like a two by eight board hit me in the chest, he said.

That brought a trip back to the States for a long convalescence, a Purple Heart among other commendations, and eventual discharge as a sergeant after four years of service.

Bradley did not rest on his heroism. Indeed like his quiet father he was reticent to discuss his wartime service. He joined the family funeral home business, raised a family, and embarked on a career of local service and philanthropy that continues today.

He also gradually became involved in a long list of local veterans organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps, League 40 et 8, Military Order of the Purple Heart and others.

I like going to the meetings and talking to the guys, Bradley said, and I like the service that they do, the donations to the Honor Flights, the nursing scholarships, and their role in the community.

That involvement led to the parades and honor guards and a recognition of the need to educate the public on patriotism, service and respect.

People aren’t necessarily taught about ritual and what is proper, he said, adding that ceremonies, such as those commemorating Veterans Day, are an important part of the nation’s fabric. It lets the younger generation know where their freedom has come from and that maybe they have an obligation to serve the country.

Bradley was instrumental in creating a Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the Langlade County Courthouse, joining a Vietnam Memorial already on the site. Those grounds are now filled every Memorial Day for a commemoration that includes speakers, music, tributes and the laying of wreaths.

Amid the strife so often in the news, Bradley said he sees promising signs. Once among the younger veterans in the local service organizations, he is now the more seasoned, with soldiers back from more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan joining and putting their mark on venerable organizations.

And on every Veterans Day, Memorial Day and other occasions where the flag passes, people of all ages proudly salute and place their hand over their heart, a simple gesture learned through letters penned from a quiet hero.

I want people to feel proud they are Americans and salute the flag and show honor to the flag, Bradley said. I try to make a point of being positive. It’s like writing the letters. Those people don’t know how to honor the flag. Inform them, and they’ll do the right thing.
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HONORING VETERANS—Steve Bradley, on a warmer day, in front of the Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the Langlade County Courthouse. Bradley, a decorated Vietnam veteran, has made it a point to encourage patriotism and respect for the flag at events such as today and Saturday’s Veterans Day commemorations.

Bradley champions veterans' causes, details experiences in Vietnam War
space
Check today’s Antigo Daily Journal’s letters to the editor column and you will see a familiar sight: a letter from Steve Bradley extolling all to honor veterans and the flag as Nov. 11 approached.

It is a time for our country to celebrate the service of all United States veterans and salute the dedicated men and women of our armed services, Bradley writes. Our freedom isn’t free, and we owe them all an enduring debt of gratitude.

Bradley has for decades penned short letters to the Journal in advance of patriotic holidays and anniversaries, urging people to show proper respect to the nation’s symbol.

And he usually includes a tiny bit of history, noting in today’s letter that Veterans Day coincides with Armistice Day, which is still observed in other countries around the globe. It commemorates the anniversary of the end of World War 1. The United States observed Armistice Day until 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill into law, proclaiming it as Veterans Day.

Bradley says the tradition dates from the 1970s, after he had returned home from Vietnam and was marching in Antigo’s Memorial Day parade.

People were not putting their hand over their hearts when the flag passed, he says. I wondered ‘who’s been telling them to do that?’ and wrote a letter to the editor. That’s how it started.

Figuring a rate of three or four a year, several hundred letters—all unfailingly polite and to-the-point—have followed.

People come up to me and say they like them because of their brevity, Bradley said. And it is still a good reminder.

The letters are just a tiny example of a life of service ingrained deep into Bradley’s psyche.

An Antigo native, Bradley, son of John and Betty, is part of a large family, all high-achievers, who moved through the St. John Catholic Church and school system, Antigo High School, and various forms of higher education.

He never questioned the need for service, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, a World War I veteran, and his father, who was among the World War II Iwo Jima flag-raisers and who subsequently collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for the effort through war bond tours.

Bradley graduated in 1967, among the nation’s most tumultuous eras in the wake of assassinations and protests over the Vietnam War. It would have been easy to be a cynic.

It was my turn to serve my country, Bradley said. My grandfather and my father did their obligation to the country and then went on with their lives.

After a summer of work and play at Bass Lake Golf Course, he entered Marine Corps basic training.

My dad didn’t want me to be a Marine, he said go into the Navy because you always had a cot and a hot meal, Bradley recalled. But I just wanted to be a Marine. About a year after we had that conversation, I was sleeping in the rain on a hill in Vietnam.

Three-and-a-half months into his tour, Bradley, a private first class, was at his commander’s side when the officer was killed in a firefight. The young Marine radioed for air cover and ordered his unit to fall back before being struck by a Viet Cong bullet.

It felt like a two by eight board hit me in the chest, he said.

That brought a trip back to the States for a long convalescence, a Purple Heart among other commendations, and eventual discharge as a sergeant after four years of service.

Bradley did not rest on his heroism. Indeed like his quiet father he was reticent to discuss his wartime service. He joined the family funeral home business, raised a family, and embarked on a career of local service and philanthropy that continues today.

He also gradually became involved in a long list of local veterans organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps, League 40 et 8, Military Order of the Purple Heart and others.

I like going to the meetings and talking to the guys, Bradley said, and I like the service that they do, the donations to the Honor Flights, the nursing scholarships, and their role in the community.

That involvement led to the parades and honor guards and a recognition of the need to educate the public on patriotism, service and respect.

People aren’t necessarily taught about ritual and what is proper, he said, adding that ceremonies, such as those commemorating Veterans Day, are an important part of the nation’s fabric. It lets the younger generation know where their freedom has come from and that maybe they have an obligation to serve the country.

Bradley was instrumental in creating a Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the Langlade County Courthouse, joining a Vietnam Memorial already on the site. Those grounds are now filled every Memorial Day for a commemoration that includes speakers, music, tributes and the laying of wreaths.

Amid the strife so often in the news, Bradley said he sees promising signs. Once among the younger veterans in the local service organizations, he is now the more seasoned, with soldiers back from more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan joining and putting their mark on venerable organizations.

And on every Veterans Day, Memorial Day and other occasions where the flag passes, people of all ages proudly salute and place their hand over their heart, a simple gesture learned through letters penned from a quiet hero.

I want people to feel proud they are Americans and salute the flag and show honor to the flag, Bradley said. I try to make a point of being positive. It’s like writing the letters. Those people don’t know how to honor the flag. Inform them, and they’ll do the right thing.
space

HONORING VETERANS—Steve Bradley, on a warmer day, in front of the Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the Langlade County Courthouse. Bradley, a decorated Vietnam veteran, has made it a point to encourage patriotism and respect for the flag at events such as today and Saturday’s Veterans Day commemorations.
2017
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Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

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