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Our View: We owe it to our veterans

Posted: November 6, 2009 7:33 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
We are a nation built upon the sacrifices of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

At the end of the day, that is the bloody truth, and no espousing of political ideologies either pro- or anti-war can change it.

From the sands of Iwo Jima to the deserts of Iraq, from the bitter cold of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam, our fellow Americans have served selflessly, many paying the ultimate price.

We owe much to the men and women next to us who have served in our nation's military.

At the least, we owe them heartfelt thanks.

On Wednesday, America will observe Veterans Day, the designated signpost on the calendar set aside for remembrances and memorial services.

What about Tuesday? Or Thursday, for that matter?

Every day is a day to remember we are surrounded by fellow Americans who have thought less of themselves than of the nation and signed their lives over to its service. They are trained to fight, trained to kill - trained to serve America's best interests.

Whatever you think of the current - or past - conflicts in which our nation has been engaged, veterans deserve our gratitude for volunteering to lay their lives on the line.

Take, for example, Santa Clarita native Jon Morita, who enlisted in the Army in 2003, driven to serve after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

On a fall day in 2005, when an Iraqi insurgent plowed an explosives-laden truck into the building where Morita and his platoon were stationed, his mind was on his brothers in arms.

"I would walk straight through hell for those guys," he said during a 2008 interview.

It was love of country that inspired his enlistment, but it was the men beside him who mattered most in the heat of battle.

Isn't that how things should be here at home? Patriotism means supporting the ones next to you.

Furthermore, we owe it to veterans to ensure there is a place for them when they come home.

There are scores of homeless veterans who will sleep on the streets tonight.

There are far too many who have committed suicide, or simply live haunted by a hellish deployment.

Going from a war zone in Afghanistan to a suburb in America isn't like flipping a switch.

If you know a veteran, do your part to help him or her readjust to American life, and call upon your elected leaders to ensure veterans are not forgotten and discarded after they've returned home from service.

In a proclamation released Oct. 30, President Barack Obama said: "Caring for our veterans is more than a way of thanking them for their service. It is an obligation to our fellow citizens who have risked their lives to defend our freedom. This selflessness binds our fates with theirs, and recognizing those who were willing to give their last full measure of devotion for us is a debt of honor for every American."

We cannot agree more.

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