Just after 9-11, when our country was riding a high of patriotism, I thanked a Vietnam veteran for his service. He stopped in his tracks, thanked me, and said no one had ever told him that.
I was astonished. I certainly know, in a history book kind of way, the kind of ridicule Vietnam veterans received at that time of political upheaval, but I just assumed all veterans had been thanked at one time or another for their service. The thought that no one had ever told this former soldier he was appreciated for his efforts was dumfounding. It still is.
That small, yet significant, incident heightened my awareness of being thankful and showing appreciation to our military men and women.
Fortunately West Virginia is a very patriotic state. The last time I checked we had more veterans than any other state, at least based on demographics. We have active veteran organizations that sponsor activities and events. Our children know the Pledge of Allegiance. Most of us stand in honor and reverence during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner-although I have certainly seem some people I'd like to "slap up side the head" who continue to talk, text, or generally act disrespectful during this tradition.
I am proud to be an American and I would like to offer my thanks to all of you who have or are currently serving in the United States military. I appreciate you and I certainly enjoy the freedoms you have fought to provide. I also appreciate your efforts to make this world a better place.
My heart aches when I hear or read of soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as Spc. Julian Berisford of Benwood did last week when his Army platoon came under fire in Afghanistan. He was scheduled to come home Saturday for his daughter's first birthday.
He was a 25-year-old son, husband, and father who loved his country enough to put his life in harm's way.
That child and her family will feel the pain of that sacrifice for the rest of their lives. For that I would like to offer them my condolences as well as my thanks for giving Spc. Berisford for our freedom.
We do not deserve such a gift, but he willingly gave and I want you to know it is appreciated.
While I know it is based on a historical event, I think it is very appropriate that Veterans Day is marked in November-the same month as Thanksgiving.
I recently saw an idea that we should say one thing we are thankful for each day of November.
I certainly know what mine will be on Nov. 11-the people who faithfully serve our country.