Fly that flag: This is the weekend we thank those who have served
They are a quiet lot, these heroes.
In fact, many of those who have done the most and been the most heroic are the last to say anything about their years wearing the uniform.
They were just doing their job, they say.
So, it is really up to us to ask and to listen to the stories they tell — not only the battlefield accounts, but the lessons on freedom and the cost of preserving it.
It is our job to understand that true courage is doing what is right instinctively, with little regard for your own safety. It is knowing that you are fighting for something, and that a nation is counting on you to do your job to the best of your ability.
For many of the veterans who will be honored this weekend as part of an extended Veterans’ Day celebration, the memories of the price that has been paid by generations of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines is still poignant. They do not begrudge their country the service they gave. They just want to make sure that those battles, sacrifices and lost friends are never forgotten, and that the freedom they protected will not ever be taken for granted.
And, in return for their courage, remembering is all they ask of us.
The flag means something to the men and women who have served in the nation’s armed forces. Whether they did battle in Europe, Korea, Vietnam or the Persian Gulf, these heroes know they were fighting for something bigger than themselves.
And as tough as they are, they still tear up when they hear the national anthem or see a flag ride by in a parade. That is what they fought for, why they lost so many comrades in arms.
So, on Veterans’ Day weekend, the least we can do is fly our flag — and salute it as we watch one go by. It is a sign of respect for the country that we love and for the men and women who have traveled thousands of miles to distant lands to protect it.
There is no way to really adequately thank the men and women who have served this nation in the armed forces other than to take care of them now — and maybe to express our appreciation once in a while.
And, of course, we can remember not only the sacrifices made and battles won, but the lessons of freedom and courage these heroes taught us.
That is the only tribute they really want.
Published in Editorials on November 10, 2006 10:56 AM