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Editorial: Today — and everyday — we salute the men and women of the U.S. military

From The Exponent Telegram of Clarksburg:  
On Nov. 11, 1918, the U.S. marked Armistice Day to commemorate the efforts of those men and women who served triumphantly in World War I.

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations,” President Woodrow Wilson said at the time.

Too many wars and conflicts later, a grateful nation (and many elsewhere in the world) pause today to honor all veterans who have served admirably in defense of this great country and the free world.

Changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all veterans, not just those from World War I, the day has developed into one marked by parades, ceremonies and dinners — all great ways to thank those who have served.

There are also a number of businesses or groups that will offer free services or meals to veterans on this day, as well as efforts by schools to pay special attention to the service of these brave men and women.

Especially since 9/11, we have seen an increased effort to remember our military men and women and the special role they’ve played in this country’s development.

From the beaches of Normandy to the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our military men and women have answered the call time and time again.

Some gave all; all gave some — of their time, their effort and their dedication in service to others.

“We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause,” President Ronald Reagan said Nov. 11, 1988

As we pause today, we ask a special prayer for those still serving, both here and abroad, protecting us and others from the perils of evil that still lurk in the form of terrorism and tyrannical despots bent on seizing a storehouse of power.

We also ask for blessings for those recovering from their service, both in veterans hospitals across this great land and at home. Today’s veterans, because of the sophistication of weaponry, as well as medicine, often live with far greater wounds than at one point was imaginable. We lift them up for healing and peace.

“It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America,” President Barack Obama said Nov. 11, 2010.

So today, by all means, thank a veteran. Shake his hand; wish him or her well. And remember that the service they provided is why we were recently able to cast ballots in a free and open election. Remember, too, they are the reason we’re allowed to worship as we choose, to speak freely in dissent of government and to enjoy other freedoms that many others elsewhere don’t get to enjoy.

Freedom isn’t free. It is paid for by the time, sweat, tears — and sometimes blood — of our military men and women. Let us remember these brave citizens and their sacrifices.

And let us also remember the words of the late President Reagan during the national Veterans Day ceremony of 1985:

“Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles — principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we’re little more than the crust of a continent. Peace also fails when we forget to bring to the bargaining table God’s first intellectual gift to man: Common sense. Common sense gives us a realistic knowledge of human beings and how they think, how they live in the world, what motivates them. Common sense tells us that man has magic in him, but also clay. Common sense can tell the difference between right and wrong. Common sense forgives error, but it always recognizes it to be error first.

“We endanger the peace and confuse all issues when we obscure the truth; when we refuse to name an act for what it is; when we refuse to see the obvious and seek safety in Almighty. Peace is only maintained and won by those who have clear eyes and brave minds. Peace is imperiled when we forget to try for agreements and settlements and treaties; when we forget to hold out our hands and strive; when we forget that God gave us talents to use in securing the ends He desires. Peace fails when we forget that agreements, once made, cannot be broken without a price.”

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