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Thank You For Your Service

It is appropriate that as a nation, we Americans reserve our highest gratitude for those who have given their lives for us in the military, and for their families. But very near to them in our hearts are those who served and remain among us — too often, let it be noted, still bearing physical and emotional scars from their time in the armed forces.

Today, Veterans Day, we honor them and, vastly more important, we thank them and their families.

Merely having a formal national holiday in recognition of those who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard is not enough. For a veteran, noting that date highlighted on a calendar is, well, nice.

But hearing someone say, “Thank you for your service” — and realizing they say it sincerely — is something else again. It means we, the Americans for which they made very real and sometimes long-lasting sacrifices, have some understanding of what we owe them.

Here in West Virginia and Ohio, we have higher percentages of veterans than in most other states. About one in 12 Mountain State residents, a total of approximately 159,448 men and women, are veterans. About one in 13.5 Ohioans, a total of approximately 864,923 people, have served.

For each and every one, that meant at least a couple of years away from home and family — time during which the rest of us were building careers and, perhaps, starting families. It meant the stress of a 24/7 “job,” often under exceedingly demanding circumstances. It meant danger for many and great responsibility for most.

For some, it meant physical and/or emotional injury. As we are reminded from time to time, even being ready for conflict carries with it major dangers. Accidents in training or when deployed but not actually in combat are not uncommon.

And some veterans, those who actually have been in armed conflict, come home so terribly harmed that the lives we take for granted cannot be even a dream for them.

If there are veterans in your family, remind them how much you appreciate them today — though they may know that already.

If you come across a veteran today — and you probably will — tell them how grateful you are for what they have done for us. A simple but heartfelt “Thank you for your service” will mean more than all the organized Veterans Day ceremonies in the land.

From the heart, then: Thank you, veterans.

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