Tim Gates

Sacrifices by veterans are not always visible.

Washington’s NJROTC instructor Master Sgt. Tim Gates told the packed gym at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School about the sacrifices of his fellow veterans. While some are obvious ­— missing limbs and even death — others go under the radar.

Gates also spoke at the Washington High School assembly Friday.

He talked about the frequent moves, the stresses on relationships and the troubles that can happen at home. He said all these sacrifices are made so people can have freedom and other rights.

Gates is in his first year as the instructor of the Washington NJROTC program. He oversees cadets at both Borgia and Washington high schools.

Teri Gates introduced her husband. She talked about his more than two decades of service and their numerous moves. She said despite the hardships, she enjoyed being a military wife.

After 15 years as an NJROTC instructor,  Gates made his way to Washington. In one of his first speeches to the public, he talked about the importance of veterans.

“So why should you consider veterans to be special?” he asked. “Veterans are people just like you and me. They have served anywhere from a few months to multiple years in the military defending our country. Without the many sacrifices they have suffered, you would not have the many freedoms that we so carelessly enjoy.”

Gates said it’s hard for many people to know the sacrifices without having firsthand experience with veterans.

“For those not affiliated with the military or not having a family member or friend to share what life is like in the military, you may not understand some of the sacrifices veterans have made giving you these rights,” Gates said. “Many veterans have missed the birth of children. Other veterans have returned to empty homes, vacated by spouses who assumed that their veteran’s absence meant the veteran loved the military more than he or she loved his or her own family.

“Countless veterans have missed sons’ and daughters’ birthdays, wedding anniversaries, their children’s high school graduations, not because they preferred not to be there, but because characteristics like honor, courage and commitment are embedded in the fibers that make them the women and men who sacrifice their lives so you can live yours in peace.”

Gates ended his speech with a simple request.

“I ask that you consider what these veterans have gone without so that you could have everything you do,” he said. “When presented with an opportunity to thank them for their service, I hope you can do it honestly and from your heart without feeling it’s an obligation.”

In addition to Gates’ speech, Borgia’s Veterans Day ceremony included a parade of veterans, the Washington VFW Post 2661 Honor Guard, patriotic songs, and military songs by the school’s band.