Make every day Veterans Day
All of us know at least one of them. Our nation's wars have called upon too many men and women over the years for us not to.
All of us know them, and all of us owe them, more than we will ever be able to repay. They are our veterans, the men and women who have contributed more than any other group to the preservation of our way of life.
Next Tuesday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, the one day set aside each year for us to recognize the courage and sacrifices these people have made on our behalf.
What's most amazing about Veterans Day isn't the number of former soldiers who will be participating in ceremonies here and across the country. It's not the breadth of time and geography their exploits in uniform represent.
It isn't even the amazing courage they were called upon to display when the conflicts of their era called them to duty.
The most amazing thing about Veterans Day is that it's just one day -- only one day set aside each year to recognize those without whom the freedom to live the way we live might not exist.
It doesn't have to be that way, and it shouldn't be. The spirit of Veterans Day should stay with us year 'round, extending well beyond this one day each year when we close down the schools and government offices.
How do we make that happen? By doing our own small part to make every day Veterans Day.
The best way to do this can differ greatly from person to person.
It can involve helping an aging veteran with tasks he or she is no longer able to perform as easily as in the past. It might entail nothing more than shaking the hand of someone we know has served, and letting them know we appreciate what they've done for us.
Perhaps the greatest way for us to honor veterans regularly is to get to know as many of them as we can, so that the stories they have to tell are passed down to future generations along as many different avenues as possible.
The people who have fought our wars for us are, in many ways, walking history books, with amazing stories to tell. Not all of the stories are pleasant one -- in fact, many, if told in great enough detail, many would be heart-wrenching.
But hearing them can give a greater understanding of the price that has been paid for us to enjoy the freedoms we do. And there can never be too much of that kind of understanding.
Unfortunately, there often seems to be far too little of it in today's world.
We've had it pretty good for a long time --largely because of the sacrifices our veterans made -- and that makes it easy to forget how things got this way.
Take the time to talk to our veterans, and make as many days as possible Veterans Day. They are all around us, and deserve to know that we understand what we owe them.