Editorial: Veterans Day
Honor, respect and appreciation are due those who’ve served in the nation’s armed forces. They truly are the few, the proud.
America totals about 22 million military veterans, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. Combining that with about 1.4 million active duty military personnel, FiveThirtyEight.com calculates that only “7.3% of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives.”
Many recruits — almost two-thirds — come from areas where household income is lower than the national median, as the non-profit National Priorities Project discovered in Defense Department records. They’re from counties with poverty rates above national and state averages. Young people volunteer for many reasons — patriotism, career objectives, travel, a desire for structure and discipline. For some, the military is a path to escape economic hardship.
From the Revolution to current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, immigrants have defended their new nation. Today, immigrants voluntarily serve in all military branches, and are a vital resource against Al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates. The Immigration Policy Center counts more than 700 who are members of the hallowed Medal of Honor fraternity.
As Ridgefield’s Veterans Day speaker, Lynn Isaac, will demonstrate to all who attend the ceremonies in front of Lounsbury House at 11 a.m. Saturday, female veterans cannot be dismissed. Female veterans totaled 1.6 million in 2015, according to the Census Bureau. Yes, they’re so overlooked that VA public service announcement videos show women vets talking about what it means to have served, and sharing people’s reactions to learning they are veterans.
The nation’s collective promise to returning warriors says they shall not bear their sacrifice and wounds alone, they won’t be forgotten, their families won’t face a future of uncertainty. The nation promises to embrace and care for the survivors of those who do not return.
Veterans Day comes three weeks before Thanksgiving. And that feels right — both are times to count the nation’s blessings, and give thanks.