Honoring our veterans

November 12, 2013

Monday was Veterans Day, a day that was set aside by Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower “to honor veterans on the 11th day of November of each year … a day dedicated to world peace.” It is particularly important to pause at this time in our history to honor our veterans as this nation, while not technically at war, remains engaged on multiple fronts to keep the peace at home that Americans have come to take for granted.

Veterans Day evolved from Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of World War I — the War to End All Wars, which it obviously didn’t.

Veterans Day was born on June 1, 1954, with a stroke of the pen by Dwight Eisenhower, himself a war hero from World War II. But the idea of Veterans Day originated on the battlefields of Ardennes, the Marne and Chauteau-Thiery. It was nurtured at Midway, Guadalcanal and Normandy. It was tempered at Pork Chop Ridge and Old Baldy in Korea. And, shamefully, it was nearly forgotten in the Mekong Delta and the highlands of Vietnam.

Our military heroes aren’t indestructible, which is why in late May this nation honors its war dead with Memorial Day, a tribute to those who paid the ultimate price.

Veterans Day is different — a time for this nation to say thanks to these heroes still among us, who, while not seeking adulation, are deserving of all we can gather up. You don’t have to look far to find one. These veterans work beside you, sit in our church pews on Sundays, and tee it up with us on the weekends. They are the more fortunate.

Others have been so shattered by war that they can no longer care for themselves. They are most of our homeless, the mentally disabled, and the physically disabled — and one of this nation’s greatest tragedies is that we don’t do a good enough job of fulfilling our obligation to take care of those who took care of us.

One of the many things Robeson County does well is to honor our war heroes. On Monday, there were tributes across the county, including the annual Veterans Day Parade in Pembroke, a town that outshines the rest of the county in honoring our veterans.

We hope you had a chance to attend one of these events, but if not, there’s today and every other day to make known your appreciation. A thank you and a hug is only a start.