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Take time to thank veterans

Monday is an important day, and we urge each of you to be aware of its significance and participate in its commemoration.

Veterans Day is a time for Americans to pay tribute to those who have served our nation in the military.

It is a day to remember, to reflect on the sacrifices of the veterans who have gone on before us, and it is a day to say thank you to all the veterans who remain.

Take time to pause and shake the hands of a veteran Monday and express your appreciation.

You may know a veteran who is still in uniform, or the veterans in your life may be great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and next-door neighbors. They may be friends or co-workers.

Some of these veterans may have served and left the military long ago, and others are newly returned. They are the “citizen soldiers” who fill the ranks and then return to civilian life after a job well done.

But old or young, our veterans have one thing in common — they are all heroes.

The idea of a day to honor those who have served in the military dates back to 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I.

Although the war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, fighting had stopped seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Thus, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of the war.

Armistice Day became known as Veterans Day in 1954, and although other changes followed, this special day was eventually returned to its original celebration on Nov. 11.

As always, Denton County will offer many opportunities to pay tribute to veterans Monday, and we encourage everyone who can to participate and salute those who have served.

But if there is no organized event near you, remember what we said about the importance of saying thank you. A handshake, a cup of coffee, a meal or a card would be appreciated by veterans everywhere.

This is especially important for our aging veterans. Each year, we lose more and more of our older heroes from World War II, Korea and now, Vietnam, and we need to tell them how we feel before it’s too late.

In addition to saying thank you, we also encourage readers to support area programs that help veterans and their families. County veterans’ services and groups such as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Vietnam Veterans of America are among agencies that work to provide support.

If you own a business, make the pledge to hire veterans. This is one of the most important ways to help ease the transition of returning veterans to civilian life.

Look around you. There are many ways to say thank you, to make a difference in the lives of those who have made a difference in your life.

Thanks to their service, we remain free.

We need to make sure they know how much we appreciate what they have done — not only on Monday, but every day of the year.