Why I Wear a Uniform on Veterans Day

by Leslie Suhr, AIA

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People at LEO A DALY's Omaha office have noticed that my colleague Charles Lindbloom and I are in uniform today. Traditionally, active service members wear uniforms for parades, school assemblies or other events on Veteran’s Day. This year, the leaders of the National Guard unit in which we both serve encouraged us to do the same.

In addition to being architects, Charles and I both serve in the Nebraska Army National Guard as musicians in the 43rd Army Band. As Sergeant Leslie Suhr, I play clarinet and bari sax, sing, and serve as MC. As Sergeant First Class Charles Lindbloom, he is a diverse percussionist and a member of our senior staff.

We wear our uniforms on Veterans Day, not to seek recognition, but to remind everyone who sees us of the many Veterans who have done so much to make our service possible. Charles and I have the opportunity and honor to wear the uniform today as Army musicians because of those before us.

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I joined the Nebraska Army National Guard three months out of high school as a way of continuing to play music at a high level for a very deserving audience, while also taking full advantage of the tuition assistance benefits. Growing up, my dad was a band director, and music was a huge part of life. My private clarinet teacher was a Soldier in the 43rd Army Band, and it always impressed me when we’d have lessons after a long drill weekend and she was still in uniform. Therefore, I consider myself to be the best kind of band nerd there is – I enlisted in the military to play a clarinet.

Members of the 43rd Army Band complete core training throughout the year (fitness testing, rifle marksmanship, etc.) while also serving as the walking, honking, singing, and sometimes dancing arm of the Army’s recruitment activities. We bring our free brand of entertainment to military functions, schools, public events, parades and anywhere else we can get in front of people to spread awareness of the Nebraska Army National Guard. At times, our unit success is directly measured by our reach—how many people see us.

Continuing a career in music was and is very important to me, even though my passion for architecture took me elsewhere. Working at LEO A DALY, I’ve been fortunate to have management that appreciates my service in the Army National Guard. In fact, our Managing Principal Chris Johnson just received a Patriot Award for his support.

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LEO A DALY is very active in the Federal market sector, designing high-quality, energy-efficient, and functional facilities of all types for every branch of government. I’m often brought in as a “translator,” helping our design teams understand SOPs and offering assurance to our clients that this project is more than just a job. For me, it’s personal.

I enjoy Federal work because of its diversity. Projects range from hospitals, to readiness centers, to barracks, and it never gets boring. I also love the opportunity to take the best ideas from my work in the private sector—mostly hospitality and corporate commercial—and bring that knowledge into the Federal market to ensure our government is getting world-class design.

If you see a Vet today, say thank you, as I will be doing. And if you have the time, let them tell you a story of their service. It means a lot.

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For more information about the 43rd Army Band, visit https://www.facebook.com/43rd.army.band/.

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