By L.H. HARDING
On Veterans’ Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, we celebrate the 77th year of this national holiday.
Our veterans are the patriotic fiber of our country. There are many whose lives have been irreversibly changed by war. And yet, as a people, Americans no longer attend veterans’ celebrations in great numbers. But to us, it is still a very important day. In the minds of our 22 million living veterans, remembering and honoring their service is a source of pride. They have earned this recognition and day of appreciation. Wreaths are placed, speeches given, war stories swapped and dinner tables set in honor of all who swore with their lives to protect our country. The bravery and sacrifice of some of our nation’s finest men and women will be acknowledged and honored.
For many veterans, our nation was important enough to endure long separations from their families, miss the births of their children, freeze on the battlefields of Europe and Korea, bake in the jungles of Guadalcanal and Vietnam, and in the deserts of Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Far too often limbs and lives were lost.
Military spouses had to endure constant change and a disproportionate share of parental responsibilities. The children had to endure the uncertainty of whether or not mom or dad would live through the next combat mission.
The wounds of war are not always easy to see. Warriors endure. Warriors make do with less. Warriors finish the job, no matter how hard, no matter what is asked. But there are always wounds.
You can show your support by saying “thank you” to the next veteran you meet. Also, help and support veterans’ causes and service projects. Too often, some of today’s tattered citizens of the street are yesterday’s heroes in a crisp uniform with rows of shining medals. This is hardly the “thanks” of a grateful nation. We can do better. We must do better.
For many veterans, uncommon valor is a common virtue. We must ask ourselves as a nation, are we serving our veterans even half as well as they have served us?
Many of our veterans that we honor next Wednesday performed remarkable acts of bravery and selflessness under extreme and dangerous conditions. We owe them so much; our safety, our prosperity, our freedom, and, in some cases, our lives. They did their duty with grace, honor and courage. Veterans’ Day is a day for us to say “thank you”.
In Cherokee, we have also chosen to honor our police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel on this day. We do this to give back. They also serve us with dedication, and many times at great personal sacrifice.
Come and be with us on Wednesday, the 11th of November at 1100 in the Exhibition Hall at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds. We will honor those who were willing to look beyond their own self-interest and comfortable lives to serve their community, state and nation. We will express our appreciation in words and music, with awards and with grateful hearts. Thank you.
Harding is the Commander of the Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143.