Kyle Miller understands the importance of honoring heroes.
He appreciates the kind of hero who scores a game-winning goal, or makes a jump-out-of-your-seat save.
But he honors the heroes who fight for their country and protect their fellow soldiers. He wants to make sure their stories are showcased the same way Fox Sports Ohio shares great plays with its legion of Blue Jackets fans.
Although he’s just 16 years old, the aspiring Eagle Scout from Pickerington has embarked on a project that has put his maturity and patriotism on full display.
Miller was the Blue Jackets’ guest of honor during the Columbus Veterans Day Parade on Friday. With his supportive family in tow, Miller answered questions for Jackets TV and greeted parade patrons.
His celebration of war heroes was inspired by an article his grandmother shared with him a few years ago about American soldiers who fought for the United States in World War II.
Miller was so moved by the story, he engaged with a local group of veterans who fought in the seminal “Battle of the Bulge.” Miller’s great grandfather was part of that decisive victory against the Germans, and while it was an important turning point in the Allied victory, it was also the bloodiest battle of the war: more than 19,000 men were killed and another 70,000 wounded.
“I realized these were the things that everybody should have a chance to hear,” Miller said about the stories he heard from veterans. “They painted an image of war that many people don’t get to see through the history books and the movies.”
Miller has created www.voicesfromthefront.org with the goal of collecting 1,000 stories from veterans of all eras and wars, and archiving them for everyone to hear and read.
He said the project is going well, and so far, he has interviewed 130 veterans this year with the hope of adding more.
“I want to thank all the Blue Jackets for letting me come out here and letting me be a part of the parade,” Miller said. “It’s an absolutely awesome opportunity to help promote my project, meet people in the crowd and run into some veterans.
“I know that Veterans Day is a very important holiday because it's such a good opportunity to remember the sacrifices of our men and woman; those who never made it home, and those who did make it home, but never forgot the experiences they had.”
Miller recently gave a speech to his church about the importance of each generation paying forward, which he believes is a key thing to remember as Veterans Day is observed each year.
“Each generation fights to preserve the freedom of not just their family and themselves, but of the next generation forward,” Miller said. “They are investing in people that aren’t born yet…that they don’t even know.”
Looking to the future Kyle has high expectations for his program and hopes to have 1,000 stories collected from veterans that he can share with the world. His aim is for the website to serve as a reminder for all American citizens that those who fight for their country are the true heroes.
“They were just ordinary people like you and me,” Miller said. “They were taken from normal lives and forced into extreme circumstances of war and fear. They came through with very selfless sacrifice -- incredible amounts of courage.
“They were ordinary people doing extraordinary things and I hope that’s what everybody takes away from this.”
With the goal of remembering those who have given more than the average person will ever give, Miller has established a medium for everyone to remember, reflect and honor those who are symbolic of Veterans Day.
Anyone who would like to volunteer and share stories is welcomed, Miller said.
Those willing to participate should visit www.voicesfromthefront.org.