Every Day is Veterans Day

  • Richard Hoegh, 91 of Frazier Park joined the U.S. Army infantry with an artillery unit during WWII in time for D-Day.He wrote a letter home about how well received his unit was in Holland. His hometown newspaper, The Selma Enterprise, printed the letter and his photo on October 5, 1944. He was 23 years old.

    Richard Hoegh, 91 of Frazier Park joined the U.S. Army infantry with an artillery unit during WWII in time for D-Day.He wrote a letter home about how well received his unit was in Holland. His hometown newspaper, The Selma Enterprise, printed the letter and his photo on October 5, 1944. He was 23 years old.

By James E. Koutz, National Commander of The American Legion

When people think of veterans, they often think of warriors, but Hurricane Sandy offers just the latest reminder of the significant humanitarian and oftentimes lifesaving work performed by our veterans on a daily basis.

As Sandy was still wreaking devastation on the east coast, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members mobilized on the opposite coast, at March Air Reserve Base in California to trek nearly 3,000 miles to assist their fellow Americans.

The Navy sent large-deck amphibious ships off the shores of New York and New Jersey, where Marines, soldiers and Coast Guardsmen were busy rescuing storm victims, rebuilding ravaged areas and providing food and fuel.

Memorial Day is set aside to honor our fallen war veterans – those who made the supreme sacrifice for this great country. We are unable to personally show our appreciation to these heroes. But Veterans Day is intended to honor all of our military veterans, including the nearly 23 million living men and women who have served.

Sometimes all that is needed is a simple ‘thank you’ directed at the veteran or the family member for his or her sacrifice.

Part of that sacrifice too often includes unemployment or underemployment when the veteran’s military service is over. Companies should understand that it’s smart business to hire veterans, and when members of the Guard and Reserves deploy, it is America’s business to ensure their civilian careers do not suffer.

We must not forget the unique health care needs of women veterans. There are more than 1.2 million women in America today who have worn a military uniform. Women play a pivotal role in our mission in Afghanistan. The Department of Veterans Affairs must adequately treat breast and cervical cancer as well as trauma that may have resulted from domestic violence, sexual harassment and assault.

We must always remember those veterans who gave their lives for us long after they stopped wearing their military uniforms. While their service obligations may have expired, their love of country endured. Chances are that if you surveyed your local police or fire department, you would find that a high number of its members are veterans.

We must heed the words of our first Commander-in-Chief, General George Washington, who said in 1798, “The willingness with which our young people will fight in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country.”

Born of their extraordinary accomplishments comes our extraordinary debt. And for those accomplishments and for their dedication, we must always be grateful.

This is part of the November 09, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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