Veterans Day is a good day to be an American. It gives those of us who’ve grown up here, raised our families here and made our lives here an opportunity to show our respect for those fellow citizens who’ve helped make all that possible.
They did so by serving in our armed forces. Whether they were drafted decades ago or volunteered is unimportant. What is important is that they answered our country’s call, and that vast numbers of them have served in distant lands, often risking their lives. Some of them endured the grief of watching their comrades die, and too many have returned home with physical or emotional wounds.
They may have fought for themselves and their comrades, but in the process they defended the principles on which this country was founded. We might lose sight of those principles from time to time. Amid the distractions of daily life, it can be as easy to do as it is unfortunate. But we err if we forget the sacrifices that the men and women who have gone into harm’s way in successive generations have made for our way of life.
In this community, we get more opportunities than most Americans to show our respect. That’s because veterans and active personnel are our neighbors, our co-workers, our fellow parishioners. And perhaps because we’ve seen neighbors go off to war, often leaving families behind, we’re more conscious of the sacrifices they and their family members make in the line of duty.
We’d like to think expressions of respect for the service veterans and active military personnel occur daily, both in subtle ways and in conspicuous ones. In recent days, several letter writers have voiced their gratitude.
On Monday — Veterans Day — we expect area residents to join together to celebrate the contributions area veterans have made. To their credit, members of the Riley County Veterans Coalition have made this easy through their willingness to share some of their memorabilia and their experiences with civilians of all ages.
Highlights Monday will include the parade, which goes from Manhattan Town Center up Poyntz Avenue to just past City Park, a ceremony immediately afterward and an honors banquet. And although there will be remarks by civic leaders, the true dignitaries will be the veterans among us.
The gratitude and respect we offer America’s veterans can’t compare with the sacrifices they’ve made, but we nevertheless thank and salute them for their services on our behalf.