A mark of distinction

Published 12:22 am Friday, November 11, 2011

When many of us hear the word “veteran,” we think of grandfatherly — and, sometimes, grandmotherly — type folks who fought or otherwise participated in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Somehow, many of us tend to think of veterans as being senior citizens. That’s because many veterans are senior citizens.

There’s a not-so-old group of veterans — those who fought in the Persian Gulf War and those who fought in the war against terrorism, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan — who are part of the veterans equation. Their sacrifices equal those of the veterans from the aforementioned wars. And don’t forget the veterans who served honorably during times when the United States of America was not at war. Their service was just as valuable. Their service helped prepare us for war when it came.

Whether it is a Marine who fought on Iwo Jima or a Navy corpsman taking care of sick recruits at Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes, Ill., 20 years ago, each is a veteran who served his or her country.

“On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families. To honor their contributions to our Nation, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country’s call,” President Barack Obama wrote in his 2011 Veterans Day declaration. “As we fulfill our obligations to them, we keep faith with the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve our Union, and with the ideals of service and sacrifice upon which our Republic was founded.”

So, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 2011, let us take the time required to honor America’s veterans. We can honor them by attending a local Veterans Day service. We can honor them by saying a private prayer while at work. We can honor them by thanking them when we see them on a sidewalk, in a grocery store or at the post office.

Veterans who’ve experienced war will tell you that fear and courage are close relatives. Gen. George S. Patton knew that when he said: “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”

Because veterans turned fear into courage, we are free today.

Thanks, veterans. Wear the title “veteran” proudly.