Nation must remember veterans

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By Ralph Damiani

Today marks the recognition of Veterans Day. It was originally set aside as Armistice Day to recognize the end of World War I, but on June 1, 1954, the aname of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day as a tribute to all soldiers who have fought for or who are fighting for the United States.

It is a time we should all remember those who struggled to preserve our freedoms.

Marty Conatser, national commander of the American Legion, says that America is blessed because millions of men and women realized – and still realize – that nothing in their lives is as important as defending this nation.

For many veterans, it was important enough to endure long separations from families, miss the births of their children, freeze in sub-zero temperatures, bake in wild jungles, lose limbs and, far too often, lose their lives.

Sadly, their deeds are frequently unappreciated and ignored.

I served in a war that only got you scorn for your service from far too many people. It is good to see a lot of that changed today as our service people are recognized for their efforts in protecting us.

But there are many who do not appreciate their efforts – including many in Congress.

Conatser tells of how Congress refuses to pass mandatory funding for VA health care, how schools tell the military to keep its recruiters away and when a wartime Army general is called a traitor, veterans are all disrespected.

We must all remember our veterans. Congress should maintain a strong veterans preference program for federal employment.

Companies understand that it’s smart business to hire veterans and when members of the Guard and Reserves deploy, it is America’s business to ensure that their civilian careers do not suffer.

Conatser reminds us all that we must not forget the unique needs of women veterans. Women are major contributors to our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and many have given their lives in the War on Terror.

Pride in military service is a bond shared by nearly all who have served.

Fewer than 10 percent of Americans can claim the title “veteran.” And while Veterans Day is today, we should thank our veterans everyday. It’s the least a grateful nation can do.

Many will get Monday off in celebration of the day. That is good – as long as we all take the time to remember just why we are not at work or school.

The day that started to honor the end of the greatest war in history and those who served, has evolved into a day when the nation honors all those who served the nation in the military.

Veterans Day is a day in which we honor those men and women who severed their nation with military service.

In New Mexico, there is an agency for veterans, that offers assistance and help on all issues related to veterans. If you are a veteran and have any question on rights or services, call the office at 505-827-6300.

Veterans Day not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

We have lots to be thankful for in this nation – most important is our freedom. And while it has become a bit trite to say that freedom is not free, it is nonetheless true. And we must not forget those who stood up for our nation and our freedom.

And it would be best to remember these men and women every day, not just on Nov. 11.