Veterans Day thoughts
On Monday, Nov. 11, there will be programs to honor Veterans Day at 10:30 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Green on Center Street, and at Middlebrook School.
At one time in our history, nearly every able-bodied young man served in the military. Although the opportunities were much fewer, many women chose to serve as well.
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 Gulf wars and the ongoing war in Afghanistan. And the veterans of lesser known conflicts — the invasions of Grenada, and Panama, the flyers who enforced the no-flight zone protecting the Kurds — all did as they were asked to do, at risk of life and limb.
Today, those who voluntarily serve our country by putting on the uniform of one branch of our armed forces is very small — nearly 1.4 million or 0.5 percent of the American population, according to the website for the Council on Foreign Relations, cfr.org. That is down significantly from the 2.2 million on active duty when the draft was ended in 1973.
There were about 20.4 million veterans in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. The largest percentage served in the Gulf wars from 1990 to present. With fewer and fewer people enlisting, the Veterans Administration estimates there will be around 12 million veterans by 2045.
Many of those who serve today signed up 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. With the example of their risks and sacrifices, Veterans Day rings a little louder in the heart.
Such is war. Its cost is borne by many, who are often remembered by few.
Veterans Day gives a chance for all who benefit to thank all those who have served — postmen and farmers, salesmen and waitresses — responding to their nation’s call by offering every last thing they had to give — their futures, their dreams, their lives.
In August, Trout Unlimited did a heroic job in treating some of the ills that had befallen the Norwalk River due to development over the years. The Mianus Chapter designated a half-mile section that runs through Schenck’s Island for some much needed TLC.
Volunteers from the chapter, along with seasonal workers from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, took a fish census. Then, the chapter brought in professionals from Trout Scapes in Montana to deepen channels and place boulders, tree limbs and root wads in the river to make it a better habitat for the fish — large and small — that live in it. We humans will benefit, too, by being able to enjoy a river that’s a little wilder and a lot healthier.
The chapter would like to continue its work along several other stretches that would total about 2.5 miles. It can’t all be done through volunteers. It takes money. The Schenck’s Island work did not cost taxpayers a dime, but the community can say thank-you by participating in a fundraising contest presented by the national Trout Unlimited organization and Orvis.
The contest is called the Embrace A Stream Challenge that offers Trout Unlimited chapters across the country the chance to win a share of $45,000 in cash prizes. All it takes is a donation that can be as small as $10, but can be a lot bigger, too.
The contest runs Nov. 4-10 and donations may be made online at embraceastream.org/organizations/mianus-chapter-of-trout-unlimited.
Anyone who doubts the value of the work done or the dedication involved may view a video at WiltonBulletin.com. Please help Trout Unlimited continue to help Wilton.