Honor our veterans today

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Today is a day marking the Nov. 11, 1918 end of the first modern global conflict – World War I – a day that many people recognize as nothing more than a day off from work. It is far more than that, however.

In fact, the holiday came about through an act of Congress on June 4, 1926, and it honors men and women who have served in the U.S. armed services.


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The official recognition of the &uot;Great War&uot; was enacted at the end of &uot;the most destructive, sanguinary and far reaching war in human annals.&uot;

At the News-Herald, our office staff and reporters are keyboarding away.

That isn’t the case, however, with banks, city and state government, and some businesses that choose to observe that it is a legal federal holiday in the U.S.

As for me, no matter where I might be today, it’ll be Veterans Day; a day to honor those who fought and in many cases, died so that Americans could continue to live lives where we have the greatest freedom in the world.

I learned in grade school, as far back as I can remember, to stand at attention whenever &uot;The Flag&uot; passed by, whether in a parade or upon a flag draped coffin carrying some unsung hero to his final resting place here on Earth.

I remember standing at attention each morning after we’d all assembled in our classes, hands in a salute position at our foreheads, eyes locked intently upon our beautiful 48-starred flag. We didn’t hesitate, but eagerly jumped to our feet as our teacher said, &uot;Let us salute our American Flag.&uot; Of course, we all said the Pledge of Allegiance and that was followed by our salute to the Christian Flag.

How things have changed… Now, I am praying along with many other Christians in this nation about the Pledge of Allegiance. In case you haven’t heard; that along with other Christian values, is under attack by the minority in this nation who feel the words, &uot;Under God&uot; should be removed from that beautiful and inspiring pledge.

But, I digress…

As for the observance of Veteran’s Day; consider the ordinary man, like some of the young Marines I’ve featured in stories since Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced… They have gone off to serve in a country where hatred for them is a boiling cauldron waiting to spill over onto them.

Think also of the politicians, and &uot;wanabe&uot; public servants who strive to gain our vote and then they offer service quite in disproportion to campaign promises. In contrast, look at those who daily offer up their lives in service to this nation.

You might be of an opinion that soldiers are paid for their services and receive great benefits and lots of &uot;pogey bait&uot; (medals), but they don’t have the option of saying they don’t like their job and quitting. They stay; they fight and they die. Because it is their job.

I know, right about now, some are saying, &uot;Well, they shouldn’t go to war anyway.&uot; That was probably not their dream in joining a branch of American Armed Forces. They join for many reasons including patriotism, but they all have a &uot;boss,&uot; the Commander In Chief; the President of the United States. When he signs us on for a war, they have no choice but to fight or die.

Would you have it any other way? What would you do should you found yourself or your family in danger with the enemy on our shores? Didn’t we get a taste of that on 9-11? How did you feel that day? Like stepping up and striking out at those who would destroy us? Even the best of Christians out there were ready to &uot;rock ‘n roll&uot; that horrific day.

How much more so did our forefathers of World War I feel when our beautiful, benevolent nation became involved for the first time in freedom fighting? I choose to believe that those brave souls who stepped up to the plate deserve my reverence; for a few moments at the least. Those serving and protecting our nation today; they definitely deserve the very best God has to offer.

Undoubtedly, you will see an American flag today. When you do; look at the colors. All those red stripes stand for the blood shed on foreign soil. The white stands for the purity of this nation, and even though it’s not so pure any longer, I still believe in the sanctity of our country as a whole.

I saw my two Marine brothers return from Vietnam; one from two tours including the last from which he is permanently disabled. I’ve seen my uncle serve the Navy where he was at &uot;Pearl&uot; when that great conflict took place. My father served in World War II through the Air Force, and I have a step-granddaughter serving now in the Army. I don’t see them as heroes… only as servants to the people of this country.

The military men and women today will someday be just common veterans, like their forefathers. The ranks of those who fought, lived and died in World War I are ever thinning, and before long; there will be none to parade out on this special day.

Think about the Veterans Day services you will undoubtedly see on the news this evening. Look at the lined faces and see them as the dauntless heroes they once were. Do not look at the frail little gentlemen as weak or without purpose. They lived through something that we can only through movies imagine. These were our beloved kinsmen. They deserve this day and whether you are working or &uot;off&uot; for the holiday; stop to believe in them and the good old &uot;red, white and blue.&uot; After all; it was good enough to die for.

Barbara Allen is a staff writer for the News-Herald. You can reach her at 934-9617, or via e-mail@barbara.allen@suffolknewsherald.com.