Dear Readers,
A Gold Star Mom's tribute to our nation's veterans 111109 SPEAKINGOUT 1 Capital City Weekly Dear Readers,
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Story last updated at 11/11/2009 - 11:52 am

A Gold Star Mom's tribute to our nation's veterans

Dear Readers,

Each year I pause to pay tribute to our nation's veterans. This time I've invited my sister-in-law, Elizabeth Johnson, to provide a guest column.

This was a bitter-sweet request for Beth but one she embraced with her Gold Star Mom's heart; many of you might remember she lost her son, Cpl. Jeremiah Johnson, 23, nearly three years ago after he sustained injuries in a Humvee accident in Iraq.

For each of our veterans, we honor you and say thanks.

Another soldier died from our town this week.

I will attend his funeral, the first fallen-hero funeral I will have attended since Jeremiah's on Jan. 12, 2007. I know it will be tough; emotional memories never soften.

Is my skin a little tougher? Is my heart a little harder? No.

Visions of what his family is doing-and will be going through-only make the memories fresh again.

We will be celebrating heroes among us on Veteran's Day. We will carry Jeremiah's banner in our local Veteran's Day Parade. We will march along with many other families who've lost loved ones. We will also be marching along with so many veterans who proudly served their country in times of war-those who came home and those who did not; they each had a dream and a calling to serve our great country that we call America.

These veterans all have a story to tell and they will tell it to you if you have a moment to listen. They are proud to be veterans. You can see it in their eyes, in the way they walk and in how they wear their uniforms.

They saw too many of their comrades fall. Many have asked the question and probably still do: "Why them and not me?" That is a question that cannot be answered here on earth.

Our veterans-past and present-have kept our country alive. Without their service, we may not be waving Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes that we love.

So the next time you see a veteran, meet them eye to eye and say, "Thank you!"

I am proud to fly our flag.

I am proud to be an American.

I am proud to stand and salute our veterans today.

Elizabeth Johnson,

Vancouver, Wash.

Judy Halone may be reached at judyhalone@gmail.com.