The naming of a section of KY 192 as Veterans Memorial Highway is only one of many tributes paid to those who serve and served in our military.
Laurel County has an excellent showing of appreciation for its veterans, starting with the designation on one of the county's throughways that is seen by thousands passing through the area. Through the dedicated efforts of Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield, military personnel from all eras are honored with a ceremony and parade each November. That ceremony concludes with a dinner for veterans and their families, which gives those participating in the event to voice their gratitude to those who served their country.
While the newly developed Whitley Branch Veterans Park hosts a tribute to military personnel, so does the small memorial designated in front of the Laurel County Courthouse. There are the names of Laurel County natives who served their country in the Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Navy. Each name engraved on the four markers made the sacrifice of home and safety to ensure that each of us have that continued privilege for generations to come. That memorial site also features the flags of each branch of the military, as does a designated spot in the Whitley Branch Veterans Park area.
It is still with pride that my hometown hosted a "Welcome Home, Vietnam Veterans" parade several years ago. It was well timed that the parade and other events coincided with my Miller Family Reunion, which brought several more of my relatives to downtown London to be a part of that unique event. Those familiar with the Vietnam War era are quick to admit that the total disrespect shown to those men and women who risked their lives for the sake of freedom can never be compensated for their efforts. Were there ever a section of American history that could be erased or rewritten, the shame bestowed on those veterans should be at the top of the list.
The Welcome Home parade in London is only one of under 20 such tributes given to those veterans - and it came over 30 years later. But when our city decided to do such an honor, it did so with gusto and enthusiasm that brought thousands to the area. The three-day celebration also offered a free concert by country singer, Aaron Tipton, who stood until the very last person attending the concert had the opportunity to shake his hand.
Monday's program before the Laurel County school board members was another tribute to those who served their country. Under the direction of Mrs. Laura Burns, the students made their own tribute with a play and a song that brought home the reality of what our military personnel sacrifice for their country. Tanner Baker's song, "In God We Trust," depicted the world we live in today - a world where prayer is prohibited, a world that views The Ten Commandments as religious despite their historic and moral values, where the very wording of the currency we use each day is undergoing an effort to remove the term, "In God We Trust."
We so often forget to honor those who ensure our lifestyles through their service. But even more frequently do we forget to honor God - in whatever form or name preferable - for the freedoms and blessings we enjoy every day. It is a shame that we have evolved into a society where the 'minorities' seemingly dictate the path of our government and laws with observance and awareness of their traditions while those that have been long established are pushed aside to accommodate "fairness" for all.
This is indeed America, where we have the freedom to speak, to think, to live as we choose. But it is also America, the home of the brave and land of the free - a land where we should appreciate those who have served to ensure those qualities of life. But we should also remember where the opportunity originated of those freedoms - from our Creator, the one that even the most insignificant person cries out to in times of need.
In God We Trust. What more is left to say?