Wise words from Shirley Steele, the wife of the late Ben Steele- a legendary Montana veteran, artist, and survivor of the Bataan Death March in World War II.

Ben Steele died back in 2016 at the age of 98, but we had the honor of hearing from his wife Shirley on Friday. Shirley is now in her late 90s as well.  I got to attend the Veterans Day ceremony at Ben Steele Middle School in Billings and she was one of the speakers.

I should have recorded video of her remarks, but sometimes you just want to take in the moment instead of constantly whipping out your phone. After she spoke, I took notes of some of her impactful remarks.

Here's what stood out to me as the former English teacher spoke directly to the middle school kids about the importance of language. She wondered why the proper use of the English language doesn't seem as important anymore. She said that defending our language is important, just like honoring our flag.

Shirley Steele: Words matter. Words can start wars. Words can end wars. Words can end families. 

When she first spoke at the podium, Mrs. Steele referenced the veterans in the crowd as she told the others: "These men earned their freedom. What are we doing to earn ours?" She also cautioned the crowd to be very careful about who they choose to run our government.

Great job by the students and the staff at Ben Steele Middle School for a well done ceremony. It was great seeing several fellow veterans, including guys I served with almost 20 years ago as Infantrymen in the Montana National Guard.

The ceremony also recognized the life of Colonel Frank Borman, the legendary astronaut and Apollo 8 Commander who called Custer, Montana home. Col. Borman passed away in Billings earlier this week.

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Gallery Credit: Stacey Marcus


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