Shared respect for veterans should unite us
One hundred years after the end of the “war to end all wars,” we observe Veterans Day, 2018. World War I was a horrible affair. It claimed some nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths. It’s interesting that in his first public remarks after being elected president, Donald Trump said, “Now is the time for America to bind the wounds of division,” as we wrote in an editorial at the time.
Those words were a paraphrase of Abraham Lincoln’s remarks in his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, in part “... let us strive ... to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
Lincoln, of course, spoke of the vast divide after the horror and rancor of the Civil War.
Alas, the comments of the two presidents — 151 years apart — are wrenchingly resonant in 2018.
The mid-term elections are over and the encouraging part of the outcome is that Democrats and the president have, once again, spoken of the opportunities for cooperation.
But behind those optimistic forecasts, are from both sides the ominous rumblings of investigations, reprisals, stonewalling and continuing inaction on issues that are important to the country as a whole, not just to the political prospects of individuals or parties.
Bind the wounds, indeed.
Lincoln also said on that Inauguration Day, that Americans needed “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and for his orphan...”
In recognizing the profound sacrifices of soldiers wearing both gray and blue, Lincoln prioritized the indisputable need to honor our soldiers.
It remains one thing that the country agrees upon. What veterans have done in whatever branch they served, whether they served in combat or not, was give up portions of their lives in service of their country. That is time away from jobs, families and the free pursuit of interests.
They gave that up to pay the price for the freedoms that make this country different from many in the world. We choose our leaders. We are free to criticize them.
Memorial Day, of course, is the day we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice — death while performing that service.
Respecting what members of the armed services have done for us should not be relegated to any one, two or three days a year.
It should be manifested every day in the quality of services provided by federal and state governments, local agencies that have taken up the cause and by the rest of us.
There should be no holes in the safety net set up by, say, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Respect for veterans is not an action to be appropriated for political gain. No one group, as much as it may posture, is more patriotic in its intentions toward veterans than another.
This is a day we all can appreciate. We need to carry this common respect for what the citizens among us have given up to other areas of our lives.