For the patriotic Steward clan, a part of which now lives in Maryville, Veterans Day amounts to a red,white and blue family celebration.
Roland Steward was born on a farm near Lincoln, Neb., and is the eighth of ten children, five boys and five girls.
All five of the boys served in the U.S. Navy, Air Force or Army, with the oldest, Hugh, coming home from the Korean War with a purple heart. The other four male siblings each donned uniforms while still teenagers.
But that was just the beginning of the family's military tradition. It wasn't long before the Stewards, already a recruiting sergeants dream, became a recruiting sergeant's paradise.
To date, including brothers, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, 23 family members have served their country as a member of one service branch or another, including six Steward kinfolk currently on active duty.
The family's current crop of soldiers includes Eric J. Steward and Nicolas Kinnaman, both of whom have served in Afghanistan, and Jeff Connelly, whose tours of duty include two deployments to Afghanistan and one each to Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
"God has been good to all of these veteran members of our family," Roland Steward said. "We lost no one in the wars that they served in. Brother Hugh lost his life in a farm accident, and we do have two members of the family who are suffering badly from post-traumatic stress disorder and have been getting some help from the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs).
"God is great, and I pray that he will continue to bless our country, the great U.S.A."
Roland Steward and his wife, Janet, moved to Maryville in 2008 after his retirement from a Northrup-Grummann-owned technology company in Lincoln, Neb. His Navy Reserve days long behind him, he said he relishes his adopted home and the Midwestern lifestyle and values his family has spent many years defending.
"We really do enjoy living in this great small town," he said.