Shared re­spect for vet­er­ans should unite us

The Norwalk Hour - - OPINION -

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.

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