Our Opinion: Veterans cannot be thanked enough

Every Nov. 11, we as a country honor our service men and women, both past and present. But do we really take the time to appreciate the sacrifices these men and women make to ensure our protection and freedom?  

Since the beginning of this country, we have asked individuals to put aside their comforts, family and friends in defense of of a variety of words such as freedom, justice or the greater good. 

Times have changed over the many years, war and those that find themselves in the middle have evolved as well. Gone are the muskets and Napoleon tactics of history, replaced with the crack of automatic fire and urban combat. 

Although the weapons and tactics have changed one thing remains constant, rifles triggers must have fingers to pull them, planes need pilots and field hospitals need medics. 

There are those that speculate that someday we may remove all forms of humanity from war. In the meantime however, living flesh and blood are sent to do battle or support those that are. 

Often when we hear the word “veteran” our mind goes to some old man sitting at a parade with a chest full of medals. Sadly some of us may think of that middle aged man sleeping on the street still wearing the old field jacket from Vietnam. 

While these images may be valid, with the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan many of the veterans that are walking around range from 18 – 40 and are our fellow students and faculty.

Short of being a veteran yourself, we may never fully understand the things these men and women have endured. Many have slept in shallow dirt holes, gone hungry and seen the fall of their fellow brothers and sisters. 

Regardless of if you agree with the government or the political reasons behind any of the conflicts that veterans have served in, understand that these individuals often have pushed their minds, bodies and at times perhaps even their souls to the limits of what a person can endure and still get up and soldier on. 

So while on this one day we take time to think about our veterans and what they may have endured, let us not forget that many of our veterans paid the ultimate price for this country. Many a soldier never made it home to accept a medal or see their family again. 

While some of these service men and women have been laid to rest here at home there are many that never returned from whatever foreign soil they had set foot on. 

It may sound cliche, but if you know or notice a veteran as you go through life, offer at least a hand shake and a sincere thank you. Sure some of them may be gruff and a bit rough around the edges, but keep in mind many veterans are still adjusting back to the civilian world and the best thing you can do is be understanding.