Veterans deserve recognition more than one day a year

Did you stop for a moment Thursday to think about the fact that it was Veterans Day? Did you bother to reflect upon those who have served and are serving our nation?

The truth is, we all tend to neglect remembering our servicemen and women. In my eagerness in last week’s column to debunk the post-election myth that the majority of voters were ignorant, I failed to expound upon the fact that Veterans Day was coming up.

If you forgot, too, think about and appreciate those veterans; it’s not too late. In fact, every day we should think about and honor our veterans — even more so given that many military members are currently involved in a fight to win the peace in Iraq.

Given these dangerous times that we live in, it becomes more imperative that we acknowledge and honor our military veterans and remember those who, because of their sacrifice, weren’t alive to take part in Thursday’s Veterans Day ceremonies.

While many may call into question the missions that our servicemen and women are sent into — most notably Iraq — we should all honor the courage and commitment they have in serving their country. It is those military members, with their steadfast and patriotic commitments to service, that protect our right to sit in safety on college campuses and either support or oppose any number of actions our government takes.

Those brave men and women are the ones to whom we owe our gratitude for helping to preserve our liberty.

It was Father Dennis Edward O’Brian who said, “It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

History has shown us that freedom comes with a price. Many times, simply talking with enemies and trying to come to a compromise with them has not worked. All around us, and throughout history, there are and have been people who will stop at nothing to destroy freedom. They haven’t and won’t be stopped by peace talks or appeasement. To believe otherwise would be naive. Many times, fighting has been the only way to achieve peace. Our military veterans are the ones who are our tried-and-true protectors of the peace and defense against the destruction of the freedom we enjoy today.

President Woodrow Wilson said, “No man can sit down and withhold his hands from the warfare against wrong and get peace from his acquiescence.”

Before you become self-righteous and feel the urge to demean the need for wars to be fought and a military to be supported, remember that no sane person wants to go to war; sometimes they have to go to war.

General Douglas MacArthur noted that, “The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

But John Stuart Mill observed that, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war is worse.”

Sometimes, there are things worth fighting for. After all, how important can something be if it’s not worth defending? Certainly freedom is something worth fighting for. And in wars, the one who defends that freedom is the soldier.

Though Veterans Day has passed, try to take a moment each day to remember that there are those among us and throughout history who, whether we agreed with their actions or not, saw the need to sacrifice their time and lives to protect what we all should hold dear, but so often take for granted — our freedom.

Adam Fowler is a senior majoring in political science.