Red and blue hang proudly to­gether on flag

The Enterprise - - Community Forum -

So the midterm elec­tions are in the books, with few sur­prises here in St. Mary’s and in Mary­land as a whole. Repub­li­cans for the most part kept their hold on lo­cal of­fices, while the Democrats stayed in busi­ness for most of the statewide po­si­tions. The ex­cep­tion there was an ex­pected one, as Gov. Larry Ho­gan be­came the first Repub­li­can gover­nor to win re-elec­tion here since 1954.

But let’s turn our fo­cus from red and blue to red, white and blue.

On Sun­day morn­ing, Nov. 11, Fen­wick Street and the square in Leonard­town will host one of the big­gest crowds the town will see all year. Those peo­ple will be there for the an­nual Vet­er­ans Day pa­rade, which starts at 10 a.m.

About 1 in ev­ery 250 Amer­i­cans are cur­rently serv­ing in the mil­i­tary, ac­cord­ing to Ral­lyPoint.com, and about 7.3 per­cent of all liv­ing Amer­i­cans have ever served, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs.

But the con­cen­tra­tion is thicker in St. Mary’s. The U.S. Cen­sus re­ports nearly 12,000 vet­er­ans call the mother county home. That’s al­most 11 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion here. Those fig­ures just af­firm what this com­mu­nity al­ready knows. As host to Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent River, St. Mary’s is keenly aware of the sac­ri­fices and com­mit­ment that mil­i­tary ser­vice de­mands, and many of its sons and daugh­ters elect to join the Navy and Marines, as well as the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard. In­deed, St. Mary’s would be noth­ing like it is to­day if not for the im­por­tant work ac­com­plished ev­ery day by the more than 22,000 em­ploy­ees at the base and all of the de­fense con­trac­tors who sup­port it.

So the cel­e­bra­tion of Vet­er­ans Day is no per­func­tory ex­er­cise here. It’s much more than pomp and pageantry. It’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the mil­i­tary straw that con­tin­ues to stir the eco­nomic drink here, and re­spect for all that it took — and takes — to main­tain those high stan­dards as the ac­knowl­edged hub of naval avi­a­tion. The an­nual pa­rade in Leonard­town, and the cer­e­monies that fol­low on the town square and later in He­len, are sin­cere and heart­warm­ing trib­utes to those who have served. (See This ‘N’ That on Page A2 for more de­tails about those two ob­ser­vances.)

Since 2001, the ob­ser­vance of Vet­er­ans Day has come into even sharper fo­cus. It is no longer just a trib­ute to those who served in peace­time or in wars past. The ter­ror­ist at­tacks of 9/11 (in which nine South­ern Mary­lan­ders were killed), and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that fol­lowed, have made clear once again the risks and costs of an­swer­ing the call to ser­vice. Peo­ple in St. Mary’s gen­uinely and deeply un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate this.

So at­tend ei­ther — or both — of those lo­cal Vet­er­ans Day events, but at the very least take a few mo­ments on Sun­day to honor lo­cal vet­er­ans and re­flect on their many sac­ri­fices to al­low us to live our lives as Amer­i­cans. Those who serve in our armed forces of­ten spend months away from loved ones, and may be sent into war where they risk their lives and en­dure harsh con­di­tions.

If you see a vet­eran in the gro­cery store or else­where, thank them for their ser­vice. It may mean more to them than you could ever re­al­ize.

And if you feel moved to do so, put a flag out so oth­ers know how you feel about your na­tion and those who served. As we move on from the elec­tion sea­son, re­mem­ber that red and blue hang proudly to­gether on that flag.

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