Published 11:30 am Sunday, November 11, 2007
Whether they saw combat, distributed supplies or filed papers during their hitches in the American armed forces, veterans have earned the right to expect our respect and honor.
We can show that respect and pay them honor at the various Veterans Day celebrations in the area, including the one at 3 p.m. today at Veterans Park in Washington and the one at the same time at the Pantego Academy Historical Museum in Pantego.
Although it’s good to remember our veterans on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, their sacrifices should be remembered each day. We should remember veterans like Jacklyn H. Lucas, a Marine who fought in World War II and is a Medal of Honor recipient. Lucas earned his Medal of Honor at Iwo Jima.
During the second day of the battle on that Pacific Island, Lucas and his unit were headed toward one of two airfields on Iwo Jima. As a skirmish in that battle developed, Lucas saw two grenades at the feet of himself and his fellow Marines.
After a moment of profound contemplation, according to Lucas, he fell on the grenades in an effort to smother their blasts with his body, saving the lives of three other Marines.
Lucas lived to tell his story. Thousands and thousands of other Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Coast Guardsmen made the ultimate sacrifice. That’s why Lucas understands his action on Iwo Jima was not unique.
Of the Marines on Iwo Jima, Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz said, “On Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
Veterans Day marks the day when the cessation of hostilities occurred in World War I. That war ended in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. On June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended the war, was signed. In November of that year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.
American military personnel continue to make the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world.
And that’s why Veterans Day should be more than just another holiday, a day off from work for most people. In the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, Veterans Day won’t be a holiday.
Veterans Day provides Americans an opportunity to celebrate the sacrifices and bravery of living veterans.
While Memorial Day honors service members who died while serving their country or as the result of injuries suffered during battle, on Veterans Day, another time deceased veterans are honored, is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the armed forces — during war or peace.
When most of us think of veterans, we think of older men and women. But there are veterans who are in their late teenage years and early 20s.
Let’s remember Kevin Jones, a Washington man and soldier killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Iraq in September 2005. Let’s remember Johnathan Kirk, a Marine from Pamlico Beach who died in April from wounds received when a roadside bomb exploded in Iraq. Let’s remember Jeremy Goodman, a soldier and Washington native still suffering from severe injuries caused by a roadside bomb in September 2005.
Do you want to observe Veterans Day in a meaningful way? Find a veteran, look him or her in the eye and say a simple “thank you.”
It may not be the Medal of Honor, but it’s a personal honor all of us should render.
We owe them so much more, but our veterans will be happy to hear those two words, which can’t be said enough.
To all veterans: Thank you.