BY TOM NETHERLAND
SPECIAL TO THE HERALD COURIER
Think and give thanks.
Remember and honor those who live and those who died while in service to this country.
That's what President Woodrow Wilson had in mind when he proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919 as the first Armistice Day. By act of congress, it became a legal holiday in 1938. Armistice Day changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower via the first Veteran's Day Proclamation stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose."
In other words, remember and honor American's veterans.
"Thank a veteran for their service," said Kathleen Neal, nurse practitioner at the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home in the city of Johnson City. "Where would we be without them?"
Neal estimates that about 30 percent of the veterans who live at the VA in Mountain Home either rarely or never have visitors. World War II veteran Charles Ward, 90, is lucky. His son and other family members visit him at least three or four times per week, Neal said.
"If you want to come visit, just let us know," Neal said. "It means a whole lot to the veterans. It's someone who is taking the time to go that extra mile for them."
America's veterans defeated the British in the Revolutionary War. That enabled our country to become a country, a free nation.
Union soldiers waged battle and won versus the Confederate Army during the Civil War. That allowed America to stay as one, a country united.
G.I. Joes and the Allies stood up to and defeated Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. That saved not only America but indeed the world from the grasp of evil.
Young men and women filled the ranks and fought Communism and the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Many encountered vile and disgusting protests upon their return home. Yet they honorably answered their country's call to duty.
And so on. You get the idea. So for those who wish to do more than visit those who risked everything, Neal said that there are myriad opportunities to volunteer.
"Oh gosh, there's always a need for volunteers to help make their lives better," she said.
That may mean but a day per week or perhaps a few days per month. Every minute of each day spent volunteering in the service of a veteran can improve their lives.
"Some veterans want to tell their story," Neal said. "Take the time to listen to their stories. Be truly interested in what they say."
Most of all, Neal said, make sure to remember veterans on Veterans Day and indeed on all days.
"It's not just another day," Neal said.
Tom Netherland is a freelance writer. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.