Remembering all Veterans

Veterans Day is this Friday, Nov. 11, a day to remember and a day to honor those who have served our country in the Armed Forces. We salute not just veterans of recent conflicts, but those who were posted to Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Vietnam and Normandy.

It is an important part of our heritage to set aside a day when all soldiers are remembered -- whether or not we believe in the cause they fought for. Questioning of any war is important and essential, but the personal cost to soldiers and their families can get lost in the fray. It is tough to look at the personal cost of war -- those who must go regardless of their own beliefs. We need to remind ourselves to look beyond the politics into the faces of those who follow orders.

As a nation, we have not always done that in the past. After the long and frustrating Vietnam War, soldiers returned home to a hostile reception. For thousands of those veterans, the memories and hardships of the war have not abated. On any given day, as many as 200,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters -- one-third of the entire adult homeless population, according to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The number of homeless Vietnam-era veterans is greater than the number of service persons who died during that war, statistics show.

It is a public shame.

Many Islanders work hard to alleviate suffering and homelessness for all as well as veterans. Island vets in particular reach out to their fellow soldiers at the V.A.Hospital in Seattle and through the USO at Sea-Tac Airport.

Veterans from Iraq have been honored and praised. Let us continue to do that and assure a bright future for when they come home. For those who are in faraway places and in harm's way -- let us continue to support their families waiting at home.

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