Editorial: Veterans Day thoughts

Although in some quarters Veterans Day is being observed Friday, Wilton veterans will observe it on Saturday, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the World War I armistice was signed.

The parade steps off from Wilton Library at 10:20, followed by a ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Green.

Few Americans serve or have served in the nation’s armed forces or have family members in the military service, so special commemorations, like Veterans Day, become all the more important for fellow citizens to take the time and reflect upon and renew the promise to those who have served and are still serving the cause of peace, justice and liberty and, increasingly, in many hot spots around the world.

According to FiveThirtyEight.com, only 7.3% of all living Americans have served in the military. There are many reasons to volunteer, such as patriotism, career objectives, travel, and structure and discipline, but it is no secret that escaping economic hardship is also a factor.

Many citizens may not know, for example, that most U.S. military recruits — almost two-thirds — come from areas in which household income is lower than the national median, according to a nonprofit group, National Priorities Project, that examined Defense Department data.

How many of us have recognized that from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, immigrants have made significant contributions to the United States by serving in our military forces? Today, immigrants voluntarily serve in all branches and more than 700 are members of the hallowed Medal of Honor fraternity, according to the Immigration Policy Center.

Has it sunk in yet for more of us that female veterans are not to be dismissed? In 2015 they totaled 1.6 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But too often the notion of women as veterans is still obscured by societal misassociation. So much so that the VA has turned to public service announcement videos to challenge viewers to rethink preconceived notions. In the videos, the women vets talk about what a veteran looks like, what it means to be one, and some share their “crazy personal experiences” with the general public’s reaction to finding out their veteran status.

The nation’s collective promise to returning soldiers includes that they need not bear their sacrifice and wounds alone, that they won’t be forgotten and their families will not have to face the future with uncertainty. The nation has promised that we will remember to embrace and care for survivors of those who do not return.

Veterans Day comes only a short time away from Thanksgiving Day. That feels right, because both holidays make us count our blessings and give thanks.