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By Michael King 
Lieutenant Colonel (ret), US Army

In the words of President Harry Truman “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude”.  We commemorate Veterans Day every Nov. 11 to remember the sacrifice and service of our armed forces members as they have continued to serve this great nation.

The list of battles fought, campaigns participated in, humanitarian assistance provided and deterrence operations since President Truman gave the address have increased in numbers too great for this piece.  Our military has undergone many changes since it was involuntary service to becoming an all-volunteer force in 1973.  Our military is suffering a loss of confidence and facing difficulty in meeting their recruitment goals with less than one half of one percent of the population serving.

Why do men and women serve in our armed forces voluntarily? Several people believe it is for the pay, college benefits, and perks of service however, the reason so many have volunteered for service are far deeper.  Most veterans that I know volunteered to serve out of a love for this nation and their sense of pride in the country.  Our veterans chose to put the needs of this nation above their needs in many cases because of patriotism, love of their fellow man, and a sense of duty to a country that has given them so many opportunities.

Every time we see a veteran, we think to say “thank you for your service” but it is so much more than the words given. Veterans tend to wear their ballcaps indicating their service or other memorabilia not to necessarily show off to those who didn’t serve but so that they can recognize each other and acknowledge their fellow servicemen’s sacrifices.  Our veterans have oft times been places, seen things, and accomplished much more than they are willing to discuss publicly.  We, as a grateful nation, need to remember this as we see our veterans and consider their choice to serve.

We are blessed in our county that most of the school districts hold Veterans Day services and special programs to recognize the service of the approximately 2,000 veterans living here. Our local churches and cemeteries work hard to identify the graves of our departed veterans by placing flags. The City of Woodville, for a small fee and application, provides banners for veterans that are displayed every Memorial Day and Veterans Day along the main routes.

Perhaps next year, our county can hold a Veterans Day parade or similar event, especially as we have come out of 20 years of war on terrorism and face the uncertainty that we see each day in the news.

As the Commander of the Veterans of War Post 2033 in Woodville, I wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to every veteran of Tyler County and remind everyone that we are here to assist all veterans, not just combat veterans.  Members of the VFW post will be at the Woodville Walmart Nov. 10 and 11 to pass out small flags and Poppies. We will have toy collection buckets out, as well, for those who want to help give some children in our area a brighter Christmas.

We will also be accompanied by the local chapter of Wreaths Across America whose objective is to provide wreaths for the holiday season to the burial sites of local veterans.

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