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Honor our veterans every single day

It's a sight that isn't easily forgotten. You're at a baseball game, high school sporting event or concert band performance, when an announcer asks if all the veterans in the crowd could kindly stand and be recognized. It's powerful to see the number of "red, white and blue"-clad men and women on their feet.

Such social events should not be the only time veterans are recognized and thanked for their service to our country - they should be acknowledged everywhere they go.

Recognition. I fear it's something many people often forget to show toward our veterans, who have risked their lives so that we may be free and safe from the evils of this world. It can be so easy to take our many freedoms for granted.

People like me have always had the luxury of waking up each morning, knowing that they have a school or job to go to, food to eat, fun activities to enjoy and a safe home to return to at the end of the day. Some of us - me included - often forget to reflect on the reason we have such freedoms: our veterans.

It's also easy to overlook the terrors many veterans carry with them for the rest of their lives. I often wonder what it must be like to be a veteran who has seen death while in action; to come home to the United States, only to realize that the fight isn't necessarily over. You often hear about veterans who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Imagine the reality of having to fight off images and nightmares reflecting the horrors of war. What a burden.

Harsh realities like PTSD are exactly why we need to show our veterans the appreciation they deserve.

If you see a current or former service member walking your way downtown, be sure to greet them and tell them how much you appreciate their service to our country. If you come across a veteran who publicly expresses a passion for making the world a better place, let them know that you admire their patriotism.

It's also important to recognize veterans' families, for they faced uncertainty and sacrificed precious time with loved ones when they supported a serving family member.

It can be so easy to overlook the courage and dedication veterans have given to our country. Let's not only honor our veterans on Veterans Day this weekend, but let's show them our appreciation every day of the year by personally thanking them when they cross our paths. After all, much of what we have is possible because of their willingness to put their lives on the line when our nation needed protectors.