Thank you to all of our veterans

Since 1919, Americans have been celebrating a very special day on Nov. 11. Today is Veterans Day. It is a day of acknowledgment. It is a day of utmost respect and reverence. It is a day of thanks for those who helped pay the price for freedom. Please appreciate that sentiment. We stress this message each year. Our message should be your message.

Originally called Armistice Day, President Wilson first declared Nov. 11 a day of remembrance following the end of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. President Wilson set the tone of observance with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

Following World War II, President Eisenhower renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, expanding the day of memory to commemorate the sacrifices of all those who have served their country.

Those who fought in the World War II — a war fought valiantly on both sides of the globe — belong to the greatest generation in the history of the United States. That is indisputable. But we are losing a very precious commodity in our country: WWII veterans.

According to the United States Veterans Administration, at the end of that war the nation was the proud home to nearly 16 million veterans. Only 558,000 of those 16 million heroes were alive in 2017. A veteran of WWII is dying every two minutes — some 372 per day across our nation. Applying crude math to that figure would mean there are about 350,000 WWII veterans left. That is it. Seven years ago about 815 veterans on average were dying each day. The number is decreasing because, of course, there are fewer World War II veterans alive. Today, the average age of a World War II vet is well into the mid-90s. A once vast but now dwindling yet still wonderful national resource that are our WWII veterans is vanishing. That is sad.

Add to that there are hundreds of Korean and Vietnam wars veterans passing daily. An estimate several years ago put the figure at over 700 per day. Veterans from those two wars have to be well into their 60s-through-80s.

More than 5.7 million Americans served during the Korean War. As of mid 2016, there were 2.25 million Korean War veterans still alive. More than 5.7 million Americans served during the Korean War.

Passage of time has taken so many of all of them from us. But we must refuse to let it ever take the memories of their heroism and sacrifices away from us. Those old enough must never forget and those old enough must continue to teach our young about commitment and sacrifice.

Many schools and community groups pay respects to our veterans. For instance, the fifth and sixth graders at Salem Southeast Elementary School will hold a Veterans Day Concert tomorrow. It will be at the school gym. The fifth graders will perform at 5:30 p.m. and the sixth graders at 7 p.m. Southeast Elementary students and staff would like to invite all area veterans and service personnel to join them. There are like tributes today at West Branch and Sebring Schools. There were many school ceremonies held this past week such as at Leetonia, Columbiana and Heartland Christian. Good for all of the schools involved and good for our conscientious teachers who impart knowledge into their students so that all the efforts on the battlefields, on the shores and on the mighty oceans will never be lost among future generations. And shame on any teacher or school not stressing Veterans Day.

You shouldn’t have had to be around during World War II to understand and appreciate what our service men and women did for us during the most pivotal period in our nation’s history. Same with the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars. We must preserve and cherish the heritage created by our country-minded veterans — those who served during times of strife and those serving during times of peace. We must pass it down through our young. And let’s not overlook those active troops serving diligently across the globe.

One way we salute you today is with a special edition highlighting local veterans. It was a combination effort between sister Ogden Newspapers the Salem News, the Morning Journal and The Review in East Liverpool. We started this project in 2016. We are so proud to be able to recognize our veterans.

And, we would be remiss not to declare a happy — albeit a day late — birthday to the United States Marine Corp. The Corp got its start on Nov. 10, 1775 — 243 years ago. Two battalions of Continental Marines were formed in Philadelphia as a service branch of infantry troops capable of fighting for independence both at sea and on shore.

The Marines haven’t stopped protecting our people and our freedoms. “Semper Fidelis”: Always faithful, always loyal. Actually that applies to all service personnel of all branches who have ever served our nation.

Reflect and be grateful today. The election held this past Tuesday? Without the sacrifices of those who have served you would have no voting rights. How much is that right overlooked in this day and age of tumult and unrest? The democratic ideals that make the United States of America the finest nation in the history of mankind were forged and protected by our service men and women. Let’s not ever lose sight of that. If you know a veteran, simply give him or her a few words of gratitude today — a simple thank for all they have done and sacrificed. Actually thank a veteran whenever you can and not just each Nov. 11. And if you are a veteran, thank you very much. Our message is the same each and every year. Humbly, we salute you. Again and again. The American way remains the best way and always will. For that every single citizen in this country should be grateful.