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How to thank a veteran

I was asked one day, "How do we say thank you" to our veterans? Also an observation was made by that same person, "Sure is nice we don't have trouble on our home land"

Always remember that as One Nation, Under God the United States of America is far, far removed from the turmoil and danger that is experienced around the world on a daily basis, and that we are so very blessed to live where we do. The closest we have come to experiencing that turmoil and danger in recent times were the events of Sept. 11, 2001. For this wonderful gift of peace and freedom we have only two people to give thanks to: God and the American veteran. One answer to the question of how to thank those who have served was answered at the conclusion of hostilities in 1919. Armistice Day was established to honor those who have paid the ultimate price for freedom. In the early 1950s, Representative Edwin K. Rees of Kansas proposed to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day and make it an occasion to honor those who have served America in all wars. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.

On March 25, 1926, to honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who have given their lives in all wars, a military honor guard was established. Since July 1, 1937, the Third U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) has kept day and night vigil.

On Memorial Day 1958, two unidentified American war dead were brought from overseas and interred in the plaza beside the unknown soldier of World War I. Both a World War II and Korean War veteran were also laid to rest. In 1973, a law passed providing interment of an unknown American from the Vietnam War. In 1984, an unknown serviceman from that conflict was placed alongside the others. However, due to scientific advances, that veteran has since been identified and the remains returned to his family.

A law passed in 1968 changing the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that Nov. 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978, Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.

Today the men and women of the United States military freely choose to protect us. This dedication can never be reciprocated in full, and they only ask for remembrance in return. Many American veterans will not come home from their stations of turmoil and danger around the world to be with their families and friends; they will pay the ultimate sacrifice. Some will come home with damaged bodies or minds; these too deserve our grandest gratitude and words of praise along with our most heartfelt thanks.

The American veteran will stand steadfast and strong, continuing to protect us and fight for freedom in places around the world with conditions that we cannot even begin to imagine.

Veterans want to come home. Yes, they fight for their country and die for their friends, but they live to come home. Most are afraid that they will lose their girlfriends, boyfriends, wives or husbands -- that everything will have changed by the time they make it back.

To answer the question how to say thank you: Send a little encouragement to someone serving today. Remember them in your prayers. Display your pride with flags. Contact our local veterans service officer or VA hospitals to inquire if any help is needed. Thank a veteran when you meet them on the street. I do. If you are a veteran, please contact your local veterans service organization for membership. We are Americans first, before being a Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative, Independent or a non voter. Our liberties were not given to us; they were sacrificed for. The price was and remains high. Today we have young men and women willing to stand up and say yes, I will take on this challenge. We as a nation must put aside our political discord, geographical differences and petty infighting. We must stand up and say as one nation; from the first man to fall in the Revolutionary war to the veterans currently engaged in conflict overseas: thank you! May God bless them and their families, and may he hold them safe in His arms. On behalf of American Legion Post 171, thank you to all veterans for your service.

Michael Ittner, Commander

American Legion 171, Wadena