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Let’s not forget to say our thanks to veterans

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Updated: January 6, 2014 2:22AM



On Nov. 11, our country observes Veterans Day. I would imagine not too many of us are affected by the government holiday.

Most will work, as usual. We’ll crab about not getting our mail and perhaps get peeved because we’re caught in a parade traffic jam. For too many, the day is a non-event … unless you are a vet or part of a vet’s family.

I’m not one to purposely go up to a stranger and initiate a conversation. If it happens coincidentally, then fine, but I don’t go out of my way to accost strangers. A couple of years I go, I found myself stuck in the Boston airport for almost 12 hours. Sitting at the gate that long, I would wander into nearby gates and change seats on occasion to keep from going stir crazy. As night began to fall, I found myself sitting across from a young man in uniform, his duffle bag at his feet.

I mean he was young, real young. He looked as if he should be home doing his homework. He sat quietly but the look on his face showed worry and a certain weariness. On a whim, I offered him my newspaper, now dog-eared from reading it from cover to cover over the long hours. He thanked me and I said to him, “I’ve waited too long to do this for the first time but I want to thank you for what you’re doing for our country and the many sacrifices you and your family must be making.”

Quietly, he said he appreciated it — more than I could imagine. We chit-chatted for a bit and soon his plane was called. Be safe, I said. That brief encounter was a most profound experience in putting a real face on those who are guarding the freedoms we so take for granted.

What should we be saying to our veterans?

Mike Raleigh, Hobart: Soldiers lie at the heart of this country’s foundation, going back to the Revolutionary War. We can never repay the debt of gratitude we have owed them through the decades and into the future. Thank you, thank you all!

Karen Cook, Gary: My family has a long history of soldiers so I know the toll it can take on families. The best way to say thank you is to do something, however small, to support a military wife, mother, or child, even if it’s only a phone call or a quick hug.

Sonia Nichols, Schererville: The best way to say thank you is not to forget there are real people, just like you and me, fighting for our safety. The one thing everyone can do is to pray for their well-being and ask God for a time when war becomes a thing of the past.

Also coming up this week is National Hunger and Homelessness Week and Animal Shelter Appreciation Week. As we scour the grocery stores in preparation for our abundant Thanksgiving feasts, perhaps we might remember to pick up an item or two for the local food pantry.

And, while we’re at it, grab some dog or cat food for the neighborhood shelter. Hungry people and animals will appreciate it and it’s a great lesson in compassion and care for others for our children.



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