2002-11-06 / Editorials


Vets Deserve Our Homage

The election held only yesterday demonstrates a fundamental principle of our democracy—one person, one vote. We note with pride that in many instances we have turned over the reins of power to new elected officials in the executive, legislative and judicial branches smoothly and without the civil unrest that often marks a change in government in many other societies.

With Election Day past, we approach the eve of another important occasion—Veterans Day. On this day we note that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 84 years ago, the guns fell silent and the Great War, which had raged across Europe since August 1914, was officially ended. It was called "The War to End Wars"; it didn't. Conflicts raged on across the globe for most of the 20th Century—World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War all contributed veterans to the parades which will march down many main streets in many towns and cities on November 11.

Their number is steadily diminishing. For these vets, the mustard gas and Big Berthas of World War I, Panzer tanks and kamikazes from World War II, Communist Chinese in Korea, the Viet Cong of the Viet Nam War, the forces of Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War couldn't touch them. But time, which inevitably catches up with us all, walks among them, taking more and more of them away from the rest of us with every passing year.

Next Monday, veterans will march as they do every year. But their ranks will be sparser, their numbers fewer. And, sadly, so, too, will be the numbers of spectators who line the parade routes. For too many people, Veterans Day is a day off from school or work, a day to shop or run errands or just another ordinary work day. Its original meaning has long since been lost in the flood of mundane concerns that occupy our waking hours.

America's veterans fought and bled and their comrades in arms died so that we could have elections such as the one that took place this past Tuesday. Since its inception, and even before, our system of representative democratic government has been beset by foes who seek to destroy it—who feel that governments derive their just powers not from the consent of the governed, but from the strong-arm tactics of whoever is most determined to hold sway. From the War of Independence on, Americans have been willing to take up arms to defend this ideal from those who seek to eradicate it.

Too often we forget that the veterans marching in parades or standing with heads bowed for a moment of silence while flags are lowered to half staff are the reason we are free to have campaigns and elections. We forget that when we fail to register to vote, or do not bother to vote at all, we diminish the sacrifices of the veterans who willingly gave of themselves so that we might be free to exercise our choice at the ballot box.

We hope all of our readers who were eligible to do so voted in yesterday's election. We hope, too, that all our readers who can will take time out from whatever their activities may be on November 11, 2002 to remember those who willingly gave up at least a part, if not all, of their lives so that we might be free to observe this day in whatever way we see fit. They were willing to put their lives on the line for the rest of us. We should not hesitate to honor that sacrifice by letting them know that we remember what they did for us. We can attend their parades, we can join in their memorial ceremonies and whenever we are eligible, we can vote. Their sacrifices must not be forgotten.

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