Melissa Lanzourakis has been on a mission.
Lanzourakis is the marketing manager for the Northeast Nebraska Telephone Company. based in Jackson, Neb., the company serves customers in the Decatur and Craig areas.
And for the second year in a row, the company has made a priority of interviewing veterans on camera and sharing those interviews online in November to commemorate Veterans Day
Many area veterans are featured in these videos and Lanzourakis hopes the public will watch them.
“To me, it’s just really important we remember our veterans and the sacrifices they made for our freedom,” Lanzourakis told the Fremont Tribune. “If their stories aren’t told, how will future generations know what it was like to serve during specific time periods?”
Veterans told some stories that made them laugh and others that brought them to tears.
“After interviewing 41 veterans, I can tell you that every story is unique,” Lanzourakis said. “Every veteran has a special place in their hearts for their time spent in the military. I also believe telling and sharing their stories is a way of healing for those veterans who still carry the sacrifices of war.”
Burt County Veterans Service Officer Penny Warren is among those whose stories will be told this month.
Although not a wartime veteran, Warren said every veteran’s story is important.
“Everybody has experiences,” she said. “Everybody, whether active duty military, National Guard or reserve, everybody signed the same blank check. Any of us could have been called to duty at any time.”
She said she learned about the interviews by pure chance, happening upon a booth at the Dakota County Fair. After making a few calls, she was able to help organize an interview session with local veterans at the Sears Center in Decatur.
In addition to being able to tell her own story, Warren said getting her message out helps keeps her office in the public eye, “so veterans and their families know what I do and what’s available to them through this office.”
Recently interviewed veterans are featured on the company’s YouTube channel at:Soldiers’ Stories: NNTC Salutes Veterans and on the Northeast Nebraska Telephone Company Facebook page. Links to both are available on the company’s website at www.nntc.net.
Among the veterans’ videos posted so far is Roger Kirschenman of Decatur.
On Sunday, Nov. 10, an overall video piece featuring all 18 veterans was released. The interviews with each individual veteran will start again on Nov. 13.
Other area vets and the dates their stories will be featured include: Paul Richards, Decatur, Nov. 15; Elmer Tippery, Decatur, Nov. 19; Warren, Decatur, Nov. 20.
In 2018, NNTC interviewed 23 Nebraska veterans. Those can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/NNTCSoldiersStories
There is no plan to have the videos taken down.
“They’ll be up for as long as YouTube is around and we’re still a company,” Lanzourakis said. “We’ll never take them down.”
Lanzourakis expresses appreciation for the veterans.
“We’re extremely proud of all the veterans we interviewed,” she said.