11/11/08 — Thank you: Heroes don't always have medals, hear bands playing

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Thank you: Heroes don't always have medals, hear bands playing

Every year, we take a day in November to remember our heroes.

We celebrate not only the men and women who are currently serving in our armed forces, but those who have served in battles past.

We remember those who are gone and say thank you to those who are just back from the fight. We think back to other conflicts and other battles -- and the men and women who fought them.

We honor their bravery and marvel at their stories of courage and commitment to their country and to protecting freedom at home and abroad.

These soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were the men on the ground who carried the weapons, led the charge, looked the enemy square in the eye. They were the ones loading the guns, engaging enemies in the sky and paving the way for the troops.

And there were support staff, too -- servicemen and women who made sure the supply lines functioned and loaded bombs on planes, even in the face of enemy fire.

But what strikes you about these heroes -- and they are all heroes -- is that few of them would even think to talk to you about their own moments of glory -- their own tests and acts of courage that defined their service.

They would rather talk, instead, about those who did not make it home -- or the bravery of their comrades in arms -- even if their own chests are decorated with medals.

They know what it costs to fight a war -- and while they are proud to serve or to have served, they never want you to forget that sacrifices are made whenever U.S. forces head into battle.

And today is the day we promise to remember.

Veterans Day is one of those "off school" holidays. Schoolchildren will spend the day away from learning and banks are closed. For many people, it is simply another day off.

But if we truly mean what we say about supporting the troops past and present, we will pause today to look at a flag or to shake a veteran or servicemember's hand and say thank you.

We will make sure our children know the history of the battles fought and the heroes lost to protect this nation and to fight oppression around the world. We will make sure they understand their responsibility to honor and protect this nation and what it represents.

And we will promise that we will never, ever forget that freedom is not free -- or that there are thousands of men and women past and present who risk or have risked their lives to make sure this country's flag continues to wave "o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Published in Editorials on November 11, 2008 10:51 AM