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PUBLISHED: 7:23 PM on Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Veterans have earned thanks for service
Other than banks and Federal offices being closed, I fear many of us forget Veterans Day.

Maybe because it was established to commemorate the end of World War I - now 90 years ago - the war to end all wars.

Except we just keep having more wars.

And this year marks an anniversary of the longest war we've fought.

I've never served in our military, have never worn our country's uniform, and have no right to speak for or about our vets. Except to offer respectful thanks for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make.

We have young men and women who have been in harm's way for four, five, six years now.

My nephew is back home this fall with his bride and two young daughters after recently completing his fourth tour in the war zone. Twice in Afghanistan, twice in and near Iraq.

He's spent more of his adult like in harm's way than in the United States.

He is much of what is good about our country, our men and women in uniform.

They have done what has been required, stepped into the line, without question or debate or dedication to any cause but protecting their country and each other.

Regardless of the generation or the threat, it is these men and women who have faced the threat head own, done the work that had to be done, and often sacrificed everything for their duty.

Some are career soldiers. Most are young men and women serving.

Many are reservists who put their lives on hold to serve.

All are patriots and all are deserving of our humble thanks.

And that is why remembering our Veterans is so important, regardless of how we feel about Iraq.

We went into that conflict with what most of us thought was good cause.

Time and almost 4,000 American deaths (not to mention those of tens of thousands of Iraqis) has not proven that to be the case.

We got rid of some bad guys.

But is that region or the rest world safer?

Or have we disabled those who attacked up on our own soil on that Sept. 11, six years ago? I fear not.

It's not for me to say whether there's been a mission accomplished.

But I'm concerned about those we have lost, and those that have sacrificed limbs or sight or health because it was their duty.

I'm concerned about where we go from here.

I'm concerned that many of those returning from war are finding neither opportunities, nor even a job, waiting for them.

I'm concerned about the goodwill we've lost across the world.

I'm concerned about how threadbare and battle worn we are, to face the next battles, the next threat, the next war that will certainly, sadly come.

It's time to end this one.

It's time to bring them all home.

We have to end this tragic process now, to begin the healing.

We also need to remember that coming home is just the first step.

That not just the wounded, but every one of these brave men and women needs our support, in meaningful ways. Not just a thank you, but a meaningful job. Not just a parade or a welcome home sign, but the first step to a productive future.

That is a Veteran's Day goal worth aspiring to.

Leschper is general manager of the Capital City Weekly and advertising director of the Juneau Empire.Email him at lee.leschper@juneauempire.com.


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