Somehow it doesn’t seem right that large portions of the general population, millions and millions of people who have never served, are entitled to stay home on the legal holiday known as Veterans Day.
It would be more fitting if the right to skip work that day were accorded to veterans only. The holiday would have much more meaning. For that one day, veterans would really feel special.
Other than that, though, Veterans Day doesn’t need much changing. Parades, flag ceremonies, gatherings in school auditoriums, special dinners and the like effectively remind us of the many sacrifices veterans make to keep our country free.
We need those reminders, at least once a year. People do have a tendency to take things — even big things like freedom — for granted.
Veterans Day happenings don’t come to pass, however, without people who care, and care deeply. Parades and flag ceremonies and all the rest never happen on their own. Without our 24/7 patriots, people willing and eager to volunteer time and effort, the day would go unheralded.
Fortunately, those patriots are alive, well and active in every small and large town in America, including communities in Union and Wallowa counties.
Here in Union County, members of American Legion Post 43, the High Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Oregon National Guard’s Third Battalion, 116th Cavalry worked hard this year, as they do every year, to make sure veterans are properly recognized and honored.
Events in La Grande this past Nov. 11 included the annual parade down Adams Avenue, organized by the Legion, and a flag-raising at Eastern Oregon University by the VFW. The latter happening included remarks by Lt. Col. Kevin Sheehy, commander of the 3/116th, and also some by EOU President Bob Davies. The Guard’s Military Honors Funeral Program fired off a rifle salute.
In Wallowa County, the Enterprise VFW hosted a traditional SOS breakfast, and also an evening potluck. The local Rotary organized a Veterans Day program, with a talk by World War II veteran E.H. Van Blaricom.
These and other local events ensured for another year that veterans were properly recognized and honored. Hundreds of people who otherwise might not have given the day a thought paused to consider what service to country means.
In short, Veterans Day wouldn’t be Veterans Day without those who act on their convictions, organize events and invite us all to come out and wave a flag and shed a tear for those who fight and die. The community — indeed, the country — owes them a vote of thanks.