The local community came out in force Monday to honor area veterans, a clear sign that Umatilla County hasn’t forgotten those who made a sacrifice and a commitment to our nation.
That says a lot about our area and a lot more about the type of people who live and work and play in our great part of the state.
There are more than 18 million veterans in the United States, and Monday allowed the entire nation to take a collective moment to recognize their sacrifice and commitment.
For many of us, Monday was a welcome day off or part of a three-day weekend.
For millions of others, though, the day carried a special significance and marked one of the few times during the year when the great nation they defended stopped and tipped its hat.
Veterans Day is more than just another day off. The day began as Armistice Day, which recognized the anniversary of the end of World War I. Later, the day was made an annual observance.
The day is rightly a celebration to recognize our veterans for their patriotism and service, but it should also serve as a reminder that we owe all of those who participated in our Armed Forces a debt we will probably never be able to repay.
Men and women have gladly stepped forward throughout our history to defend what is, in a real way, a collection of concepts. The Constitution and its Bill of Rights are words supported by a philosophy of democracy that remains an experiment. Yet each year millions join our Armed Forces, and they swear an oath. Not an oath to the president. Not an oath to Congress. They pledge their souls to defend the Constitution.
That makes us unique in many ways from nations across the globe. Our men and women make a choice to lay it all on the line for words. For a philosophy.
Our veterans deserve to be recognized and lauded. Each one made a conscious choice to sacrifice their time — and in many cases their bodies — for their nation. While many of us built lives, raised children and attended youth sports events, our veterans were far away from home. They were sometimes stationed on foreign shores, in harm’s way, while the rest of us went along with our lives.
We can’t forget their sacrifice. So as the 2019 Veterans Day recedes, we must all collectively remember their sacrifice and endeavor to ensure their needs — mental and physical — are met.