OUR OPINION: Thank a veteran every day

Published 4:00 am Thursday, November 10, 2022

Veterans Day is Friday, and it’s so much more than a day off from work or school.

In a city like Vicksburg, with a large military research presence, we have a high number of veterans in our population. These men and women might not always wear clothing that indicates their time served, or have the word “VETERAN” stamped across their foreheads, but chances are, they’re the people you pass in the grocery store, the ones sitting in the church pew behind you — even the deputy writing your traffic ticket.

It’s a noble calling, one for which we so often seem ungrateful. In the world of social media, social justice, “snowflake” culture and the like, it can be easy to forget that your right to be “woke,” as the kids say, hinges on your service members’ willingness to go to battle and risk their lives to protect it.

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While far too many over the years have made the ultimate sacrifice and not returned home, there are even more who are here and are deserving of honor and respect — both for their own merit and the spirits they carry with them.

As conversations about mental health become more and more commonplace, we also need to exercise compassion and understanding with our veterans who may be struggling. Due to their experiences while deployed in foreign lands — or even simply the struggles they face while reintegrating into society — an estimated 22 veterans per day take their own lives.

Perhaps letting a veteran know that you do appreciate their service, or taking things one step further and listening to the stories they have to tell, could be the thing that keeps them going.

In American society, we’re facing dwindling numbers of World War II and Korean War veterans, the aging Vietnam veteran population and a younger generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Between these four generations, we’re running out of time to show them how much we care.

So on Friday, make a pledge to thank a veteran, but don’t stop there — thank them every other day, too.

Veterans Day is every day for the men and women who served. And it should be for us, as well.