Our View: Honor and respect on Veterans Day | TheUnion.com

Our View: Honor and respect on Veterans Day

The soldier had no opinion on the war.

He’d talk about his family, his little girl running through the restaurant as his wife chased her down. He’d talk about his experience overseas. Moving from one building to another in an enemy town, choosing when to fire his weapon and when to lower it. All that was on the table.

But he wasn’t about to talk about his personal politics.

This Veterans Day there’s no reason we should either.

Politics shouldn’t be part of honoring and recognizing the men and women who serve and have served in the military. You don’t have to be pro- or anti-war to take a stance on this issue. They wear the uniform, sacrifice a large part of themselves and at times are sent into battle for this country.

They deserve our respect, this Veterans Day and every day of the year.

We often think of veterans as the ones who carry guns and fight on foreign soil. But they’re also the ones who serve as mechanics, doctors and pilots. They cook, build roads, work in mail rooms, drive trucks and fight fires like the rest of us.

The particular job doesn’t lessen the dedication they have or honor they deserve.

You never know where you might be sent when the military controls your life. There’s some influence an individual may have, but ultimately decisions are made for the good of the whole.

And sometimes that decision puts a solider in a foreign city, holding a gun, deciding when to raise it and when to put it down.

Most of us are thankful our jobs don’t put us in a position where we might got shot. Or worse.

While those soldiers are away, spouses and children are left behind. They don’t sign their lives away for a set number of years, but they make a commitment all the same.

Military service puts an extreme strain on families. Spouses worry their partner may never return home. Children are without a parent for months or years, counting the days until they step through the front door again.

It takes a family to support our soldiers. Those family members deserve our thanks as well, though their burdens may be different.

They won’t face a weapon pointed at them in the heat of battle, but they’re under the gun all the same.

Our veterans pay the price. You see it in their suicide rates, in hospital bills in some sad cases, how they are treated when they come home. Some Vietnam veterans faced the draft, put their lives at risk and returned to scorn.

We can’t change what happened. But we can control what we do now and for every day that comes.

It is proper we set aside a day to honor veterans. We stand silently when 11 a.m. hits, listening for the volley of guns.

Aside from that, what else are we going to do?

We can fly the flag and thank a veteran. We can volunteer at a barbecue, donating food and our time. We can listen to their stories and learn from their experiences.

And we can hold ourselves to a higher standard when discussing our politics. Like the soldier being interviewed in a restaurant, our political views don’t have to dominate how we conduct ourselves.

Instead, shake a veteran’s hand on Monday and simply say:

Thank you.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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