Our veterans and their families deserve far more appreciation than they receive

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Today is Veterans Day. The day we set aside to honor the nation’s veterans from all our nation’s wars for their courage and efforts to keep us a free nation.

As we do here in Vicksburg, cities across the country will hold parades and special events and programs to honor the veterans who live in their communities.

Television programs will commemorate the deeds of the men and women who fought in the two world wars and the wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East countries of Iraq and Afghanistan. They will be honored with dinners, lunches, patriotic concerts and assemblies recalling the exploits of those who fought in Meuse Argonne, Belleau Wood, Pearl Harbor, Midway, Normandy, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, Pusan, Hue, Desert Storm and Kandahar.

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But what happens after Nov. 11? How will our veterans be remembered on Nov. 12, 13, or Dec. 1?

When World Wars I and II ended, many troops came back home to parades and celebrations. Other veterans from those conflicts quietly returned to their hometowns and families. Korean vets never received massive parades when they returned from that war. Vietnam vets were reviled for answering the call, either through enlistment or the draft. It is only now that we begin to take a second look at the men and women who fought in Korea and Vietnam.

And it is only on Veterans Day that we take the time to honor our veterans who we tend, for the most part, to forget about the rest of the year.

It shouldn’t be that way.

Our veterans are people who should be remembered and honored all year long. These are people who have taken up the call to fight for their country, regardless of their political leanings and regardless of their opinion of whether we should be in a foreign land. Many are men and women who have suffered physical and mental wounds that will take long time to heal. Many are aging and dying, and are now, only in their later years, ready to tell their stories.

So after today, when you see a veteran, give them a salute. If you have a neighbor who is World War II, Korean or Vietnam vet, pay them a visit and just spend some time talking with them to show you care. In the process, you might learn something — about them, about yourself.

We should try to make each day for our veterans Veterans Day.