Nation needs to thank veterans in real ways
December 05, 2007
Veterans rarely relish being the objects of attention. Typically, they neither seek attention nor do they want it.
Nevertheless, when attention comes genuinely, and especially from young people, it is graciously accepted.
On Friday, Imlay City High School students rolled out the red carpet for veterans during a special Veterans Appreciation program and reception in the high school library. The guests included local veterans whose span of service included World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Iraq.
The two-hour program featured patriotic songs from the high school choir, an Honor Roll slide show that included names, photographs and military history of local veterans, speeches by students and staff and refreshments.The event was well-received by veterans in attendance, many of whom outwardly expressed their appreciation for students and high school staff.
One might assume that remembering and honoring the service and sacrifices of our veterans would be a given in American society. Americans as a whole are a kind, appreciative and thankful people.
Yet even in these times of war when patriotism is presumably at its highest, the majority of Americans remain strangely insulated from the human costs associated with war.
Instead, our veterans are granted lip service from opportunistic politicians who pander to them rather than offering them tangible evidence of a nation's gratitude.
Thanking veterans should not be limited to loud, boastful praise from our leaders, but in concrete rewards like guaranteed medical and dental care for all who serve honorably.
Not just at underfunded VA hospitals which too often require veterans to jump through hoops to get the care they need, but care from any doctor and at any hospital in this country.
Moreover, our nation's thanks should extend to the spouses and children of National Guard and Army Reserves whose lives have been turned upside down as they perform multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If we intend to keep relying on an all-volunteer military, we'd better make certain we provide those who serve with adequate compensation and economic opportunity when they return to civilian life. That should include realistic assurances they will still have jobs to come back to when they come home.
Providing these kinds of benefits to our servicemen and women would obviously cost a great deal of money. Our elected leaders seem willing to pay the astronomical cost of waging war, but they are less generous when it comes to picking up the tab for war's associated costs.
That includes taking care of our veterans when the war is over.
That kind of attention is something our veterans would truly appreciate.
Email Tom at