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Veterans Day: Time to honor our finest

Tuesday — Veterans Day — arrived on the blustery heels of winter’s first major storm.
Most of us woke up more focused on clearing our driveways, late school starts and navigating treacherous roads on our morning commutes than on taking time to honor and thank our nation’s veterans.
It is far easier to think of veterans’ service when we see American flags snapping in a brisk, cool breeze with a blazing blue autumn sky as a backdrop.
But perhaps Tuesday’s blustery, cold weather is appropriate for Veterans Day, that day when we remember those who endured the worst of weather conditions — sleeping in rain-drenched trenches, slogging through snowy forests, enduring the heat, humidity and insects of jungles — all the while trying to stay alive as they defended our country and its freedom.
We set aside two days a year to honor our service people: Memorial Day, when we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives; and Veterans Day, when we honor those who returned home from service. Some returned home wounded, physically, emotionally and psychologically, and their experiences will mark them for the remainders of their lives. They, too, have sacrificed much for our country.
These are the people who left behind families, friends, communities — all that was most precious to them — in defense of our country, with no guarantee that they would someday return to their everyday lives.
As we attended Veterans Day programs, we were heartened as we saw children high-five veterans and others shake veterans’ hands as we honored them for their service. It is a far different world than the Vietnam era, when soldiers were looked upon by many with scorn and were detested for their participation in an unpopular war. Fortunately, we no longer hold our soldiers and sailors responsible for what may be the misguided intentions of our politicians.
Some will say The Chronicle is a day late in lauding our service people. It’s true; while this editorial was written on Veterans Day, many will not read it until the day after, or even several days after.
But that’s OK. Really, we should not reserve our esteem, respect and pride for our service people to just one or two days a year. It should be every day.
Many will say that the veterans of World War II were our “greatest generation.” And considering the scope and impact of that war, that is very true. But every veteran is the greatest of his or her generation, and should be honored accordingly.
So, the next time you encounter a veteran, a reservist or an active military person, please express your gratitude. Nobody deserves it more.