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Honoring Veterans Means More Than Just Recognition

Veterans Day calls to mind the men and women who went off to war and in some cases didn’t return.

The American Legion post in my hometown of Montrose is named in honor of two soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, one of them from the church I grew up going to.

I’ve said before how three of my uncles fought in World War I, but for most people my age, World War I was the war of our grandparents’ generation.

When World War II came along, many of my classmates’ fathers fought. My own father was rejected because of his flat feet, but eventually farmers were no longer drafted so they could stay home and produce food for the war effort. Also, Dad was 35 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, so age might eventually have been an issue.

Some of my classmates had older brothers who were Korean War vets, as were several of my cousins.

Now, soldiers of my generation who returned from service in Vietnam didn’t always get a welcome. In fact, the war was so unpopular that some of them wore civilian clothing on their return flights so they wouldn’t draw attention.

Attitudes changed very much during the time of Desert Storm, and soldiers still receive the recognition they deserve.

But while recognition is good, opportunity is essential, and returning service men and women need to be able to reintegrate into society.

It’s up to all of us to make sure that happens.

If we are to be a truly grateful nation, we need to show it.

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