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Stephens: Have you ever thought how our veterans helped give us the right to vote?

I am sure you have though many times how blessed we are to with the many freedoms we have. And I am sure as we approach Veterans Day you realize how indebted we are to all those who have served our nation in our armed forces. Truly freedom is not free. Those who served gave up valuable years of their lives.

Have you ever thought about what Veterans Day is all about? This year on two days we will     celebrate a time to honor our Veterans. In the spring we have Memorial Day in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In the fall we have Veterans Day, set by Congress on Nov. 11. But because that day falls on Sunday this year, we will have Sunday and Monday to express our appreciation to our veterans. 

Veterans Day is one of the few Federal Holidays that falls on the same date each year. The others being New Year’s Day, July 4th, and Christmas. There was a time between 1971 and 1978 that Veterans Day fell on the fourth Monday of October. But that proved to be very unpopular. In 1975 President Gerald Ford signed the proclamation that moved it back its original date of Nov. 11.  

Each year on Veterans Day there is a time to honor our local veterans on the Square. Each year the crowd seems to grow as we take the day to thank those who through their service have kept us a free and strong nation. This year of course will be on Monday, Nov. 12.

I am writing these ahead of time, for this year we have a special way to show our appreciation to our Veterans. We can use our right to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6, if we have not already voted early. We can vote and will influence the direction of our government on the local, the state, and the national levels. 

My late father-in-law was born on Nov. 11 in the year of 1915.  When the first parade came on his fourth birthday, the family legend is he thought it was for him.  Truly all the celebrations are in honor of all who gave valuable years of their lives to serve our nation.

Nov. 11 was chosen because on that date in 1918 at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the 11th month an armistice was signed by Germany and the Allies that ended the First World War. Of course this was then known as the “War to end all wars.”  But sadly this was not true and following the Second World War and Korean Conflict it was changed to all who had served our nation with the new name “Veterans Day.” This action was done by Congress and President Eisenhower in 1954, 

The way the name of the day is written is important.  Many times in ads or the press you will see the possessive form of the word, either “Veteran’s” or “Veterans”.  But the official name is the attributive form “Veterans”. You ask why this is important. It is not just a day for Veterans but day for all of us to express our appreciation to them.

It is a great time to thank all the veterans you know for their service.  If you know a veteran who is getting older or not able to get around as much, why not send a note or e-mail to thank them in a very personal way.

One of the traditions for Veterans Day is a laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.  Putting flowers or a flag at the grave of a Veteran is also a good idea.  Many of your neighbors will fly a flag from their home on the Eleventh to show their appreciation.

While saying “thank you for your service” is very important, the care we give our Veterans is even more important.  The services, particularly the medical support, has not been in the past few years what it should be.  This is truly a non-partisan issue as under both parties we have allow the care not to be what it should. Let Veterans Day be a reminder to all to work to correct this ASAP.

Another group we should honor on this date are the families of those who served. Often great sacrifice was made at home in support of those who served. Countless hours of worry happen when there is a deployment.  I can remember when our son went just out of high school to serve in what was then known as the cold war. I can also remember the terror when he was deployed during Desert Storm and to serve in Iraq.  There is a ripple effect that touches many lives when someone is in service.

It is estimated there are more than 21 million veterans alive in our country today. All but 5 million of those served during times when the services were involved in active conflict. To all these men and women we will ever be in their debt for the years they gave to our nation.  I can write these words   because these Veterans protect our freedom of press. I can worship the way I choose because they served to protect our freedom of religion.