Vets deserve praise

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 11, 2004

As you read this, our military forces are in the heart of Fallujah, Iraq, doing their duty with honor and bravery. They are risking their lives – and some of them have lost their lives – for us.

Regardless of what you think of the war in Iraq or the president’s handling of the occupation, we should all become united in our appreciation of the men and women of our armed forces, past, present and future.

Today is Veterans Day – a day to tell those who have served this nation valiantly, selflessly and honorably that we treasure them and fully support them in all that they do.

Regardless of the battlefield – whether trenches, deserts, cities or jungles – or whether they served stateside behind a typewriter, all our veterans and future veterans have distinguished themselves by their service to freedom and the ideals upon which this great nation was founded.

Veterans’ Day services will be conducted locally in Ahoskie and Jackson and we should try to take time out of our schedules to attend. The veterans didn’t serve for recognition or honors, but their honorable service in the defense of freedom does deserve to be recognized.

Most veterans are not war heroes. Most of them served quietly, efficiently, and with no fanfare. They did their part in keeping the country secure and in preserving the peace by doing the necessary things that any large force needs to succeed. When threats arise, they have always been in place to do the many jobs necessary so the rest of us could go about our daily lives and enjoy our families and friends.

Today in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere we once again ask the men and women of the armed forces to put themselves in harm’s way to preserve something more precious than a single individual’s life. And once again some of our sons and daughters will not return.

Veterans Day is a day to thank all members of the armed forces for putting their lives on hold and at risk in service to their country.

Following the horror of seeing the Pentagon in flames and the World Trade Towers falling, we became a nation united. But although initially united by our resolve to crush the people who committed such atrocities, we soon dissolved into bickering factions – culminating just last week with the 2004 Presidential Election – which, ironically, is what our veterans have fought and died to protect.

Democracy demands that we not be totally united in our ideals because if only one idea prevails, there is no room for growth, no flexibility in our thinking, and no hope for wisdom.

But on some things we can agree – our veterans deserve our respect, our admiration, and our undying gratitude.

So on Veterans’ Day, regardless of whether you think the invasion of Iraq was necessary for national security or a horrendous blunder – whether you voted for Bush or for Kerry or for Nader – unite with all your neighbors to pay tribute to our veterans.

Resolve to meet with your neighbors in expressions of solidarity. Veterans Day is one of the occasions when this is needed.

Just take a few moments out of your day to say &uot;thank you&uot; to the veterans who have so valiantly served this great nation. For the sacrifices they make to defend and preserve freedom, no compensation is enough. All that we can do, and all that our veterans want, is for the citizens of this great nation to acknowledge the value of the sacrifices they have made.

Veterans Day is the time to do that.

All of our veterans are heroes. Those who now serve and those who have served in the past – whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or stateside – are heroes not because they glory in battle like the ancient Spartans did, but because they desire a secure peace for their families, neighbors and fellow Americans so much they are willing to sacrifice their very lives for others.

Our veterans have manned the battlements of freedom to ensure that no nation can successfully wage war against us. Those who hate us for our liberties can only sneak murderers among us under the cover of darkness to slaughter the innocent, hoping we will respond by limiting the liberties that make us vulnerable to their depraved assaults.

Our veterans have preserved the peace in this nation so that we can sleep peacefully at night. Some of us have become fearful because of a single day of infamy in September 2001, but in reality our veterans have made this one of the safest nations on Earth. We should be able to sleep easy at night because nobody dares openly attack us from without.

Our veterans have made us secure. They allow us to enjoy our liberties and freedoms because we do not have to implement draconian measures to preserve the peace.

Our veterans have answered the call to war on those occasions when diplomacy has failed or madmen have forced us to protect freedom through armed conflict. And they have answered the call of peace, defending it with honor regardless of adversity and divisiveness.

Let us all pay tribute to our veterans on Veterans’ Day. Let us send a message to our men and women in uniform that their service is appreciated and will continue to be appreciated long after the work is done. And let us also send a message to the enemies of freedom that their efforts to destroy us are doomed to fail because we support our troops.

Celebrate your freedom as you honor our veterans on Veterans’ Day.