The debt we owe

One hundred years ago yesterday, the conflict many hoped was “the war to end wars” drew to a close.

For decades, Nov. 11 each year was observed as Armistice Day.

Now, we know it as Veterans Day, honoring those among us who have served at any time in the armed forces.

Though the last American veteran of World War I (West Virginian Frank Buckles) died a few years ago, it would be neither morally right nor prudent for us to forget the debt we owe those who fought for us then — or the lessons of the “Great War.”

Many of the diplomatic, military and economic struggles we face today have their foundations in World War I and its immediate aftermath.

Still, it is entirely appropriate that we devote Nov. 11 to recognizing all who have served and are in uniform now.

Much about military service has changed since 1918. Killing technologies such as machine guns, armed aircraft and poison gas were just beginning to wreak human havoc on the battlefield.

Atomic bombs and guided missiles lay in the future.

Some things never change.

Military service, even in what passes for peacetime these days, involves enormous sacrifice.

Though those in uniform bear much of it, their loved ones at home suffer, too.

Men and women in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard stand ready to rescue us at any time, whether from natural disasters, terrorism at home or war abroad.

Many understand they may be called upon to lay down their lives for us.

But for them, the way of life most of us take for granted — with all the freedom and prosperity that entails — would be no more than a dream.

It is not too much to say that they make enormous sacrifices so that we need not.

Let all of us honor each and every one of them.

And this Veterans Day, we once ask ask humbly that God watch over them and return them safe to those of us they serve.

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