Thank a veteran, then honor their sacrifices

Today is Veterans Day, the day we rightly set aside to honor the men and women who don the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces in service to our country.

The Tribune wishes to say to all veterans as well as active service members, thank you for your service.

But we’d also like to say we can never truly thank you enough.

On Wednesday on this page, columnist Mark Franke observed the pride he feels when he hears young people say “thank you for your service” to those in uniform. He noted: “I hear it myself when I am wearing something displaying the Sons of the American Legion logo. When that happens, I explain to them that it was my father who served in World War II and the Korean War. I am serving his memory.”

Franke, like the overwhelming majority of Americans, will never know firsthand the sacrifice required of those who serve and who put their lives on the line for their country. But we do know our nation depends on them.

According to the Department of Defense, less than 1% of our population will ever wear the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Guard or Reserve. Here in Jackson County, the number is greater, but still, according to census data, only about 4 out of 100 residents is a veteran.

Yet without this select few, who would defend our nation and protect our freedoms?

This is the oath they take, we and they knowing full well that these words bind them with their lives during the time they serve:

“I (name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

As stated, roughly 99% of Americans will never feel the gravity of those words personally and what it entails as a human being to swear to them, and then to submit to the authority of the U.S. Armed Forces.

But most of us know someone who has taken this oath for our country — and really, for each of us. It is right and proper that we in turn salute them and never forget their sacrifices.

The Tribune has had the privilege in recent days of reporting on some of the ways we honor veterans today. Of course, the annual Veterans Day ceremony will take place at the Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown at 11 a.m. today, and the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center is coordinating with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 for the annual program at Gaiser Park in Seymour at 9 a.m. and is open to the public. Veterans also are being honored in a lot of other ways, too.

Because after all that our veterans have done for us and our country, isn’t that the least we can do for them?