Every day, I am thanked by someone for my service to our country through my time in the Army; from young and old, every race, religion and region of the United States, from veterans and non-veterans. Today, I proudly wear the title United States veteran. I felt it was my duty to serve, as my family has served, from Iwo Jima to Korea to Vietnam, to the Gulf War to today.

For the last 45 years, military service has been strictly voluntary. The last draftee retired from the Army in November of 2014. For all those who served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard, we have served to protect and defend not only the Constitution of the United States, but her citizens as well. It wasn’t always pleasant, it wasn’t always easy, and for many it was dangerous. But we proudly served.

Today, every single American has a duty and responsibility to protect each other. Whether you are a veteran or not, you can also protect and serve our country. Very few of us do not know someone who has tested positive, and possibly died from the coronavirus.

Doctors have strongly recommended wearing face coverings and to socially distance from others. Wearing a mask prevents the spread to others in case you are infected with the virus and not yet showing symptoms or are asymptomatic. We here at Post 86 have been directly affected.

For those of you who either deny the seriousness, believe that you are impervious or just believe that wearing a mask is an infringement on your constitutional rights, I have one question — what about the rights of everyone around you? Have you thought about that man standing in line in front of you at the grocery store may have a newborn at home? Or that the teenager working at the cash register goes home to help care for an elderly grandparent?

Would you disregard safety rules regarding wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle or a safety hat on a construction site? Maybe let your child ride a bike without a helmet?

Patriotism and service to country and fellow man is following medical guidelines and cooperating with authorities when they are contact tracing. When we travel to or from a state, quarantine for two weeks. If we are to stop this insidious virus, we must act together.

I correlate what we are doing in society to service in the military. If everyone had a different idea of how to accomplish a task in a military unit, it would be impossible to do anything and possibly cost lives. But when we all acted as a unit, nothing was impossible.

We have faced large obstacles in our past and met them head-on, and we will do so now with everyone’s help. Today, I want to thank everyone who is being responsible in their social behaviors, for their service to our country, state, community and to all Americans.

Tom Moore is adjutant at American Legion Post 86 in Wilton. For information, email legionpost86@gmail.com.