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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Nov 13, 2008

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, a small group gathered at the south edge of Library Square. Of the group, most were military or retired military men, members of the local Estherville VFW Post and National Guardsmen. The others were a handful of citizens.

The reason the people were there was to honor those veterans who have fallen in battle since our nation began.

The weather was not nice. Large snowflakes fell, adding a funerary tone to the event. School was canceled for the day, and roads were not nice either.

It was not very nice when Allied troops fought trench warfare against the Germans in World War I. It was not very nice either when they were gassed and shot and their wounded bodies left to freeze on the battlefield.

The weather was not very nice either during the Battle of the Bulge when Americans fought to repulse the German attack. For months on end, they fought and slept and ate frozen C-rations in subzero cold.

The weather was not very nice either when the Marines fought to survive the winter in the battle of Chosin. Who knows how many died from the weather not to mention their wounds.

The weather was not very nice either when Americans slogged through monsoon-soaked jungles in South Vietnam to halt the Communist advance on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The weather was not very nice either when the Marines advanced into Fallujah. They still fought though, and that is why we are winning the war in Iraq.

Few understand the sacrifices of our veterans because those sacrifices are far beyond human comprehension. For well over 200 years, our veterans have fought on beaches and on mountains, in jungles and in deserts, so we can be free.

As a result, our country has never been occupied by another power. On rare occasions we have been attacked, most notably on Dec. 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor and on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York. But the American response was swift and brutal, as it needed to be.

Somehow, our public needs to be educated better about the contributions of its veterans. Their blood sacrifices are too great to ignore.

We have little to fear about the bravery of our armed forces. They are every bit as brave as they have ever been. They are proving that every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What we do have to fear those is complacency – a complacency that results in only a handful of people appearing at what should be some of the most solemn and glorious events of the year – Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

When we no longer care about the sacrifices of our veterans, we prove that we no longer care about our freedom.

And that is the greatest tragedy of all.