Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Time to salute our brave, stalwart veterans
By the Advocate Editorial Board
Nov. 9, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.
Editor's note: Former longtime Victoria Advocate executive editor Jim Bishop died this year. Veterans were one of his favorite things to write about. We'd like to honor Jim and our servicemen and women by re-running one of his columns on Veterans Day.
Throughout military history, the sign of courtesy and respect between warriors has been the salute.
It has come in many forms - such as a fist to the saluter's chest, a stretched-out arm or a straightened hand to the hairline - but it has always been unmistakable as a recognition of one soldier, sailor or airman by another.
Fortunately, on Veterans Day, we who have not worn the uniform of our country's armed forces, or have served and then retired from it, can still give a salute to those who do.
Observed Nov. 11, or the weekday falling closest to that date annually, Veterans Day has often been referred to as one of the least understood of the national holidays.
It is probably most often mixed up with Memorial Day at the end of May. That sacred day is set aside to honor those who have given their lives in battles dating to the very founding of America. Lord knows they deserve that honor every day of the year.
But Veterans Day is for living veterans, those who are the answers to endless prayers for a safe return home from the wars.
The day was originally set aside to observe the end of World War I, but it has evolved into a day when veterans of all wars can receive our gratitude for a job well done.
But let's get back to the symbolic salute. We can do it in many different ways on this Veterans Day.
We can attend one of the ceremonies planned in our area. We can reach out and shake the hand of a veteran, young or old, who fought to keep us from those threats that always seem to appear over the horizon's of free people.
Or we can simply say "thank you" upon spotting a man or woman in uniform or wearing the caps of a veterans' organization.
But you know what? Even if none of those things is possible for you today, you can bow your head for a moment of fervent prayer and thank God for giving you these brave people to stand between you and the evil forces in the world.
I am reminded of a quotation from one of the many movie versions of "Robinson Crusoe." At the end of the film, the hero has returned to his beloved British homeland, his true love and finds prosperity after years of island exile.
Yet he cannot forget Friday, the islander who saved his life and fought bravely at his side. And so he pays this tribute: "For the rest of my days, I would think often and long of the man who had given me the greatest gift of all, my life, when I'd all but lost it, and his friendship unto death."
Thank you, veterans, for the sacrifices you have made in order to give us the gift of freedom. May God bless you and keep you safe.