The Journal of Martinsburg:
It was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Nov. 11 – what we now mark as Veterans Day – 1918 was regarded as the “war to end all wars.”
As Veterans Day approaches this year, we hope our readers will use it not only to reflect on the sacrifice of those who have served our country, but as a reminder of what it means to be an American.
Nov. 11, 2017, will find our country deeply divided. It will find citizens of the United States who no longer have much faith in their political system, and politicians who seem to have forgotten they do not serve themselves but those they represent.
As Nov. 11 draws near, we will continue a debate over whether kneeling as the national anthem is played disrespects the country and those who have served it, and whether statues and monuments to those with ties to a dark period in our nation’s history are an affront to many among us.
These are not easy debates, but they are important, if for no other reason than we can have them.
Liberty is the reason.
It’s why so much blood has been shed. It’s why we mark Nov. 11, and honor those who laid their life on the line.
War, of course, can often be political, and we can tangle ourselves in arguments over whether or not it is justified. But, that’s not why thousands of our nation’s soldiers have died. It mattered not what side of the argument they were on. It mattered there was an argument at all.
They chose to serve the country, not always its policies. On at least one occasion, many didn’t choose at all. In Vietnam, our country learned many tough lessons. One of the cruelest was the shame wrongly directed at soldiers returning home from a war that divided the nation.
We hope this is a lesson not easily forgotten.
Our country is far from perfect. Its history is riddled with events we should be ashamed of, but history is important because we learn from it, and by learning from it, we adapt.
Hopefully, we become better.
The political environment we find ourselves in now is toxic. It’s emotional. Sometimes, it’s downright hateful. There are so many ways to find things that divide us: religion, race, class, sex. But, the one thing that unites us is perhaps the most important – the freedom we have to be different. It’s something we shouldn’t forget.
People died to protect it.
Don’t argue viewpoints simply because you can. Do so because you believe in a cause. As Americans, we are free to do so.
You can thank a veteran for that.