Editorial: Veterans Day

America’s soldiers face deadly fire overseas — whether in fierce battles or from the wearing grind of sniper attacks, booby traps and suicide bombings. With the example of their risks and sacrifices, Veterans Day rings a little louder in the heart.

On Friday, Nov. 11, America will pause. The day’s meaning is as it has always been: a time to honor all veterans — so many of them now nameless, faceless.

We honor veterans for their service. We honor all of them for their sacrifices. We remember the iconic vets who won World War II, fighting in Europe or the Pacific. We salute those who fought in Korea, and the long tumultuous jungle war of Vietnam.

We honor, too, the desert fighters of the first Iraq War as well as those who have served in the more recent war in Iraq and the ongoing war in Afghanistan. And the veterans of lesser known conflicts — the invasions of Grenada and Panama, the fliers who enforced the no-fly zone protecting the Kurds — all did as they were asked, at risk of life and limb.

Veterans Day is not political — though with the rights our veterans have fought to preserve, anyone in this great country is free to make of it what they wish. But Veterans Day should not be an occasion for patriotism that is self-righteous, or protest that is disrespectful.

Regardless of whether schools are open or closed on Veterans Day, it is important to teach our children what the men and women of the armed forces have done for us. It is because of them that we could debate if there should be a day off on Nov. 11.

Many of those who serve today signed up in September of 2001, after America was attacked for the first time since 1941. They now find themselves in arid deserts and frigid mountains, not on the shores they volunteered to defend. Their families find themselves struggling to fill emotional voids, sometimes struggling to fill daily human needs.

Such is war. Its cost is borne by many, who are often remembered by few.

Veterans Day is a time, simply, to stand in quiet admiration of the everyday people — postmen and farmers, salesmen and waitresses — who responded to their nation’s call by offering every last thing they had to give, their futures, their dreams, their lives.

Veterans Day gives a chance for all who benefit to thank those who serve, not just those who gave their lives, for their sacrifices.