Tater cartoon for 11-10-21 Veterans Day

Now is the time for all good people to salute the military veterans of our country. And may we do it with a grateful heart.

As a lifelong civilian whose father served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 24 years, I’ve always found patriot music stirring, and the same goes for watching an eagle fly and seeing Old Glory waving proudly in the breeze.

Watching our aging veterans marching in local parades is a heart-swelling experience as well.

From those who have served in the National Guard to those who stormed foreign beaches while their comrades died beside them, I am proud of each and every soldier who rose to the challenge because they not only loved their country, they believed in it enough to trade their one and only life for you and I.

Commitments don’t get any stronger than that, you know.

The last of the World War I veterans died several years ago, and of the 16 million who served during World War II, less than a quarter million are still with us. Many other veterans of Korea and the ensuing wars we’ve been involved in are quickly disappearing as well.

They answered their country’s call and did what needed to be done in order to thwart forces that would destroy countries, and to help bring peace to so many in other lands.

So many of our veterans returned from war changed forever, whether it was physical or emotional, certainly through no fault of their own.

Those of us who never donned a uniform have no real grasp on the horror and fear found in the midst of combat. Many of them seek help through our Veterans Administration, thankfully, but it’s sad to know that treatment is sometimes delayed and help comes too late.

These men and women weren’t hesitant to perform their duties for our country, no matter how dangerous they were.

Seems to me that the least we could do was come to their aid as quickly and efficiently as possible.

It does my heart good to see a veteran honored on the news, though it bothers me when their appreciation comes many decades later than when it was earned. That makes me wonder how many thousands have died while waiting for the nation they defended with their very lives to remember them.

We’ve all heard war stories, many told first-hand. But there are many stories that won’t be shared by them, due to the emotional toll and their reluctance to relive it. We’ve looked at family photos that are military related, and enjoy seeing our loved ones in them. The others in the photos are but nameless faces to us, but to the veteran, names and personalities rush to the forefront, along with experiences shared during their time serving together.

I would imagine that the roll call and familiar voices come right back to their minds and hearts when they revisit those times.

I have a great many photographs of my father’s time served at lighthouses, aboard buoy tenders, tug boats, and cutters. While I’m familiar with many of them, I wish I’d recorded a story from each, along with names and dates of all those represented.

I’m grateful that my father took me out on the boats with him when he was stationed at Fort Pierce and New Orleans, often for days at a time when I was a little boy, and I have very fond memories of those trips.

My father died young and unexpectedly at age 59, and was buried in his uniform with the many ribbons he earned, pinned to his chest. I had just turned 30, and before I knew it, I surpassed the number of years he lived. That certainly caused me to reflect even more about his life and career.

I’m proud that he gave nearly half his life to the service of our country and am proud to be one of his children. I salute his memory and salute all other veterans, not just this week, but every week. May God bless them one and all, and may many continue to serve this great nation.

And may we never take our freedoms — or veterans — for granted.

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