Harriet Freiberger: Gratitude is the least we can offer

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Today, we Americans honor all the men and women who have served in this country's armed forces. The annual tradition began 88 years ago, on the first anniversary of a temporary armistice between hostile forces. Seven years later, Congress required a presidential proclamation "inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

The original "Armistice Day" honored "the cause of world peace" as well as those who had fought in "The Great War." Then, a little more than half-century ago, the 83rd Congress broadened the scope of recognition and President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation." He wrote:

"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose."

Display of the nation's flag on this day expresses respect for those who have stood in defense of that purpose, in many cases placing their own lives at risk to save others. Such unity rarely occurs in this nation that takes pride in its diversity of opinions and voices. Only those whose lives have spanned almost 100 years can remember when President Wilson announced the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. And not too many more recall the end of a second world war, the results of which, if victory had not been ours, would be an entirely different way of life. For anyone whom Adolf Hitler saw as other than "the right kind of citizen," there would be no life at all.

Too many of today's population have never taken part in Veterans Day, never expressed appreciation for members of the military who serve at the nation's call. Gratitude is the least we can offer.

Here in Routt County, some 6,000 of us have participated in a recent election, evidence of the freedom we enjoy. Our valley's people are enjoying the last of autumn's lingering warmth, treasuring these all-too-brief days that come after most of the hunters have left and before winter visitors arrive - when our community is "just us." It is truly an appropriate time for recognition of all the good that fills our lives.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, back in 1918, fighting in Europe came to an end. Today, we mark that anniversary. Even as we do, young American men and women are bearing arms against suicide bombers in countries far away. New veterans are returning from yet another war. Let us pause to honor them all - those whom we know in person, those whom we recognize by their uniform, and those who, silently and unrecognized, bear the scars of battles they have fought. As we remember "The War to End All Wars," we express our hope that someday there will indeed be an end of all wars.

Today is Veterans Day. We offer our respect.

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