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Military service is nothing to be viewed lightly.
War surrounds us, and members of the armed services take the brunt of it.
Their families do, too.
With all of the fighting around the world, we wonder when we see the next generation starting to walk, winning awards in elementary school, going out on their first date or choosing a career, what their future holds. Whether they will live their young adult lives in a peaceful time or one that requires their service or the service of their loved ones in the military.
We pray for the former, but are all too aware that the result might be the latter.
Because one war or another has touched every generation's livespan for decades upon decades. Grandfathers fought in World War I; fathers in World War II; brothers in Vietnam, sons in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Nor do we forget Korea or the Persian Gulf.
Millions serve; all too many pay the ultimate price.
It is difficult to imagine walking in the footsteps of a military veteran, particularly in those of ones still serving.
The courage it took to answer the draft or to volunteer is unimaginable.
For that courage or simply the determination to do right, we salute the veterans who responded to the call for the brave and the selfless. It is because of them that there is even the possibility that we take too often for granted — the freedom and relative peace in which many of us live.
They put themselves between what might destroy our way of life and what we enjoy today. No way can anyone who didn't fight alongside them understand fully what that means. But we know it is big, bigger than big, and knowing that is enough to make the time over this Veterans Day weekend to thank the vets for their contribution to the United States, if not the world.
The world might not perfect, but it isn't as bad as it could be because of the men and women who have served or are serving in the U.S. armed services.