This is that special day on which we focus on all of the men and women who have served in the United States military. It could have been this week in Afghanistan or seven decades ago in World War II. (By the way, this Dec. 7 will be the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack that prompted the U.S. to enter that war.) The person could have served in war or peace time, in combat or other aspects of the great military machine. We honor them all today.
This will be the first Veterans Day since a Veterans Administration health clinic was opened in August in Saranac Lake. That new service, centrally located in the Tri-Lakes area, is worth thinking of fondly today, and while you're at it, give thanks for the local people like Frank Karl of Onchiota, whose hard work is the reason it's here. This Korean War vet tirelessly and cheerfully lobbied officials of all kinds to get this clinic, and he has never stopped networking for the ongoing support of it and the veterans it serves. Everywhere he goes, he smiles and talks up the good work about supporting veterans. He does this, supposedly, through his role as an officer with the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Saranac Lake post, but we strongly doubt they're paying him what he's worth. Really, he does it out of love for his community and country; you can tell that when you meet him.
This Veterans Day, like the last 10, 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. They have faithfully done what they were called on to do.
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" - those who volunteer to do the dirty jobs. We say great things about them, but most of us don't fully understand them - especially now, a decade into this War on Terror.
Whether you agree or disagree with our current wars, remember that our soldiers willingly stepped into the middle of them, risking and losing their lives at our country's bidding. That is worth more than we know how to say.
Remember the point of today - to make sure our veterans know you appreciate their sacrifices. 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 braved the bullets.