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We owe our freedom to America’s veterans

On Veterans Day we honor and reflect on those who have answered the call to service, such as World War I and II veterans, those who fought and died in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It takes courage to put yourself on the front lines. They sacrificed the comforts of home for a greater cause — freedom and their country.
Certainly, they are among America’s best.
It is rare to find a group of people who transcend the divided and partisan nature of our times.
So this Veterans Day, we again honor our former and present military members for their service and sacrifice — and for being model citizens who transcend our societal divisions.
Visit any cemetery in Carter County and Elizabethton, and you will probably find the grave of a veteran. Thousands of Carter Countians have served their country, both in war and in peacetime. Some gave all…some are buried in foreign cemeteries, some at sea.
Regardless of our politics or predilections, veterans have answered the call. They were and still are willing to give their lives for the country we live in, and the freedoms and values we cherish.
They protect our nation and reflect it, coming from all walks of life and political stripes: Democrat and Republican, gay and straight, white, black and brown. They’re brought together not by the school they attended, or the ZIP code they grew up in, but for the higher purpose of defending the United States’ ideals and all of its people.
They make sacrifices. It takes courage to put yourself on the front lines. Courage to do away with the comforts and simplicity of normal life for a greater cause. Courage to leave behind everything you know for something and some place foreign.
Veterans’ families make sacrifices, too. Imagine the emptiness family members feel from the absence of a loved one and the pain they experience at the possibility that he or she may never return.
We call them service members because they know what it means to lend someone a hand and when to reach out for another’s. They dedicate themselves to teamwork and camaraderie, and they bring that dedication back home.
It is rare to find a group of people who transcend the divided and partisan nature of our times.
Veterans Day is a time to honor that service and sacrifice. But such reflection should never be limited to just one day. The sacrifices veterans and their families have made for this nation and the integrity of its values deserve reflection every day — through our words, deeds and respect for one another.
This Veterans Day, take time to seek out a veteran, shake his or her hand and thank them for their service. If you have time, visit the War Memorial downtown Elizabethton and reflect on the names of the veterans who gave their all for this country, then take a stroll by the Memorial Wall and read the names of the men and women who have served our nation, and silently breathe a prayer of thanks.
We can do without politicians, but we would not be free if it were not for veterans.