LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — There is no mail today, federal offices are closed, and children around the country will be honoring our nation’s veterans through special programs at school.
There is no one special day that we should honor our veterans — it should be every day. But setting a particular day aside for remembrance and appreciation is a universal way to say “thank you” to those who sacrificed so much.
Through the many years of interviewing veterans for our special sections and more recently, the annual Silver magazine edition each November, it is rare that these former military people talk about their real-life experiences other than to share some comedic instances in their lives. They do not share the times they were scared for their lives, the times they broke down and cried, the times they saw horrible massacres. They keep those in their heart and in the corners of their minds and talk only of their patriotism and name the battles they endured.
These gallant men and women gave a part of their lives that can never be replaced and never be repaid. They don’t expect great recognition or commendations, but they appreciate it when those achievements are recognized.
The ongoing battle in Washington concerning cutbacks to “social programs” inevitably affects these brave men and women who now survive on Social Security and Veterans Administration checks. For most, receiving disability or back pay on injuries and illnesses associated with their military duty is a long and frustrating process. Many never see the ‘fruits’ of their sacrifice.
Our government is renowned for cutting back on our veterans’ benefits. My father died during “Reagan-omics” and his 27 years of service — including serving in pre-war Vietnam, on the front lines in Korea, and his service during the end of World War II — was rewarded with $150 from the government. It paid to dig his grave. He served during three wars and his service was rewarded with $50 per war.