Honoring veterans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Staff report

Monday’s ceremony dedicating the new Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veteran’s Cemetery in Suffolk could not have been staged at a more symbolic moment.

With American soldiers under assault in Iraq and on the eve of the day when Americans go to the polls to elect their president, it’s fitting that we take the time to honor those who sacrificed to ensure that the rest of us are able to exercise that precious right.

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But more than that. Our debt to our veterans is far more than symbolic. As John W. Nicholson, under secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs said during Monday’s ceremony, we need to be on a mission to fulfill that obligation.

Whether it’s through cemeteries, health benefits or ensuring that our men and women in Iraq have adequate body armor, its incumbent upon our elected officials to do more than just pay lip service to veterans.

As Sen. John McCain pointed out on Face the Nation Sunday, defense appropriation bills aimed at filling these needs are loaded down with pork, which ultimately ends up depriving our veterans and active duty personnel of needed dollars to fulfill their mission.

Lord willing, at this time tomorrow, we’ll know whether President Bush has been re-elected or Sen. Kerry has ousted him from office. Whoever wins needs to make the needs of our veterans and servicemen and women their top priority.