Veterans: Each one is link in the chain of safety

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 8, 2009

America is rich with stories of military valor. Many of those stories will be repeated this week as the nation once again observes Veterans Day. In two active theaters of combat, new stories of extraordinary deeds are being written every day. The same is true from Fort Hood, where valor was shown in stopping the spree of a madman.

Hearing these stories is uplifting. Gratitude for heroes is a good thing. But it may be even more appropriate to remember that Veterans Day isn’t just for heroes. It’s for all who have put on the uniform of one of the nation’s armed services, honored their oaths and played a role in national defense. The job might be as a front-line combat Marine, dodging IEDs in Afghanistan, or as a mechanic who kept the engines of Swift Boats churning in Vietnam. Cooks, supply clerks, engineers and drill sergeants are all links in the same chain with skippers of nuclear submarines and top-gun fighter pilots. Each depends on others to get the overall job done.

We like to think of ourselves as a peaceful people, a nation that has never had expansion or conquest on its agenda. With our military might, conquering almost any other nation could be accomplished with relative ease. Indeed, our greatest challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been in winning the war, but in establishing the peace.

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Our global position has, for the most part, followed an admonition from our first commanding general, George Washington, who believed that having a strong military was the best way to avoid war.

America has been blessed through the centuries, as it is today, to have had men and women willing to serve in the countless roles that, in combination, “provide the national defense.” Tell the stories of courage and valor and sacrifice, but salute all veterans. They deserve it.