Chances are, if you are not a veteran of war, you know someone who is. Today is the day to recognize and honor all of the men and women who have fought for the United States.
This Veterans Day, like the last nine, is shadowed by a current war. Keep in mind the veterans who are currently serving in or have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq. They have had a hard time over there, trying to avoid getting killed and also trying to do some good for countries that are not their own - countries where their presence is not necessarily welcomed by the local populace. It wasn't the soldiers' decision to invade, but it is they who had to do it and they who have to rebuild these damaged nations.
Then, when they come home, they must reintegrate into a home country that largely ignores the wars. Without a draft, we have mentally outsourced the fighting to "others" - and our warriors are the others. We say great things about them, but in general, we don't feel connected to them - especially now after nine years of this War on Terror.
That's why Saranac Lake's efforts to serve veterans are so important. The Patriot Hills at Saranac Lake plan for a permanent retreat and reintegration center, a Veterans Administration health clinic that recently broke ground and St. Joseph's plan to build a center to treat veterans suffering from both addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder - individually and collectively, these are models for other communities. It's good to service of these folks made such a priority.
Whether you agree or disagree with our current wars, remember that our soldiers are in the middle of them, risking and losing their lives at our country's bidding. That is worth honoring.
Whether you agreed or disagreed with the war in Vietnam, remember that U.S. soldiers endured great hardship after being thrust into a conflict that originated from complex political disputes that were over their heads. Whether you agreed or disagreed with the war in Korea, World War II, World War I and so on, remember the point of today - to make sure our veterans know you appreciate their sacrifices and that you appreciate the obstacles they either overcame or succumbed to.
Veterans Day isn't necessarily to honor the presidents and generals and admirals who make the decisions about when and how to use our nation's military might. It's really about the men and women on the ground who did the work and braved the bullets.