Red and blue hang proudly together on flag
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.