The Daily News Journal: Editorial: Honor veterans for their sacrifice

Posted on November 11, 2010

Words are not really enough, but we hope a sincere annual 'thank you' is a start.

Today's Veterans Day comes as this nation continues to have troops in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan, eventually providing a new group of veterans sacrificing their safety and in too many cases their very lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy.

We encourage residents to honor veterans today by participating in a variety of scheduled events, including a Veterans Day tribute set for 11 a.m. today in downtown Murfreesboro.

Veterans of all wars are encouraged to gather on the court square, in uniform if possible. Flags will be waved, colors presented and "Taps" played as a remembrance wreath is placed on the county's "supremesacrifice" memorial that is on the southeast corner of the Courthouse. (See today's Rutherford Weekend or dnj.com for a listing of other activities.)

Said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander: "On Veterans Day, we call special attention to Americans who have worn the uniform of our Armed Forces to help preserve our safety and freedom. We couldn't possibly honor enough the courage and dedication of servicemen and women who have fought to keep us safe, often far away from their families and loved ones. Thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you to your families who sacrifice with you."

Well said, but words are not really enough.

Widely known is the ongoing decrease of the our veteran ranks to the sands of times, with the current mortality rate of World War II survivors at approximately 850 veterans passing every day. Meanwhile, the generation of an estimated 8 million military service members of the Vietnam era, 1964-1975, is fading quickly as well. The number of Vietnam veteran deaths has almost doubled since 2001 and, according Department of Veterans Affairs' projections, will hit almost 104,000 this year — approaching 300 a day.

The U.S. military has deployed 2.1 million service members to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and we are so thankful each time a group of National Guard soldiers arrives safely back in Smyrna to their families. Of those deployed, 1.2 million are now veterans eligible for VA healthcare, and of those veterans, 565,000 were already treated and diagnosed at VA medical facilities, including 277,000 first-time veteran mental health patients.

Our thanks goes to those at Murfreesboro's York VA Medical Center and other VA facilities who care for those veterans needing proper healthcare.

It was good to see the groundbreaking this week of The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C. War leaves lasting injuries, both mentally and physically. The nation has more than 3 million living disabled veterans, according to The Associated Press, including 53,000 who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Words are not really enough.

But to all of our veterans, we again say, 'Thank You.'