Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veterans' Day

KM was out of school today for Veterans' Day. As the son of a 20-year Air Force veteran, and as one who grew up with and around servicepeople and their families, I'm pleased and proud that we still honor to those who have served, and are serving, and extend them the respect they're due.

It has nothing to do with whether you favor or oppose war — the current conflict in Iraq or any other. It has to do with appreciating the sacrifices made by those who elect to serve their country (and in many cases, their adopted country — a fair number of our servicepeople are immigrants) in this particular way.

Not every member of the military serves by packing an M-16 or by dropping bombs on the enemy. My father was a carpenter by trade. One Christmas Eve, he drove a snowplow to clear streets during a blizzard in Washington, D.C. so people could navigate the roads safely. He helped rebuild homes and public buildings in Biloxi, Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Camille. He delivered donated toys to needy kids. He taught English to children in Thailand during the Vietnam War. He managed recreational facilities for servicepeople and their families stationed on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. He helped convert former military installations to civilian use, and ensured that those converted buildings were code-certified for public use. He sandbagged flight lines during driving rainstorms so that military and civilian aviators could take off and land safely.

On Veterans' Day, I salute everyone who has served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces. Many of them sacrificed so that others of us never had to.

If you have a chance today, hug a vet. And tell him or her how grateful you are for their contributions.

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