Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A salute to all our veterans

Veterans Day -- such a somber recognition that so many of our country's men and women have given their lives to serving their country. Our community always has a tremendous outpouring of recognition for veterans, young and old. In fact, the Herald's list of events continues to be one of the most-viewed stories online this morning.

The parade this morning rapped around the Herald, a solemn tribute despite the marching band, motorcycle blasts and honking horns. As in Tiffany Tompkins-Condie's Military Moms blog this morning, and Vin Mannix's story from Sarasota National Cemetery, we will continue to pay heed in print and online.

Joseph Galloway, military columnist for McClatchy Newspapers, gave us a good snapshot of the changing face of today's veterans in his column today. The last living British veteran of World War I died this year. The last American combat veteran of The Great War died in 2007 at age 108. The last of the Greatest Generation veterans of World War II, who once numbered some 15 million and changed the face of this nation, are slipping away fast now. The veterans of Korea and the ranks of more than 3 million who served in the Vietnam War are thinning.

Still, he wrote, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are contributing a steady stream of new veterans joining the ranks. But military service is filled with volunteers, not draftees.

Today in this nation of 300 million, fewer than 1 percent wear the uniform, and, with their families, bear all the burdens and sacrifice of protecting and defending the rest of us who give little thought to those who pay the price for our freedom.

I so wish we were in a time of worldwide peace and could salute our veterans with relief.

-- Joan

The American Flag flies at half mast over Monument Park in Bradenton today during Veterans Day services. Staff photo by Paul Videla

President Barack Obama places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. AP

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