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Appreciating veterans

Now that the Enterprise is home-delivered mostly by mail, we don’t publish on postal holidays, including Veterans Day. Between that and the whirlwind that hit us Monday — after we found out one of our staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 and that six more had been ordered to quarantine at home — we did not manage to write an editorial before Veterans Day about how much we appreciate those who served this country in the military.

Better late than never.

We write this on Veterans Day itself, which was a rainy day — the first after a string of gloriously sunny, unseasonably warm days. Perhaps the weather matched the sobriety of the occasion. This is not a time to celebrate summer soldiers. It is a time to remember and appreciate those who chose to put themselves in discomfort and at risk to protect other people.

How fortuitous it is that this week, while the attention of millions of Americans seems focused on controversy, we take time out to honor those about whom we are in complete agreement: veterans of military service.

No matter how we view politics, we are united in revering the men and women who have served and do serve us in uniform. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard are the solid wall behind which our freedoms rest.

They serve us not as Democrats, Republicans, independents or adherents to any particular political philosophy. They serve us simply as Americans.

It is their steadfast, pure patriotism that we celebrate this Veterans Day.

Even during peacetime, they make enormous sacrifices for us. In effect, they take years off from their lives to go where they are asked to go and do what they are asked to do.

Sometimes that takes them to foreign lands. Sometimes it places them aboard ships on lengthy cruises. Sometimes it means their posts are right here in the United States, but far from their homes. Families, friends and former co-workers are seen only infrequently.

Their families become their brothers and sisters in arms.

Because the military must be on guard constantly, the jobs they do come with inherent risk. The regularity of reports that servicemen and women are killed or injured in training accidents or even during the course of normal duties reminds us of that.

Of course, everything changes during times of conflict, be they full-scale wars or armed confrontations that may not even make news. It is then that our foes learn, invariably, why the American military is respected and usually feared throughout the world.

And it is then that we whose liberties are being safeguarded are reminded just how important our men and women in uniform are to us.

There are fewer veterans among us this year than last, simply because of the number who served during World War II. This Veterans Day, we have among us an estimated 17.4 million who wear or once wore the uniform. That is about 1.4 million fewer than last year.

Expressing our gratitude to them grows more important by the day.

This week, we do just that. We honor — and thank, from the bottoms of our hearts — those who served and have served.

And this Veterans Day, we pray that God will watch over and keep them with same kind of steadfastness they showed for us.

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