They gave their lives, give them a minute

They stormed the beaches of Normandy and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. They island-hopped across the Pacific and planted the flag at Iwo Jima. They fought in the marshes and the jungles. They fought and still fight in the desert.

The Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, the Gen Xers — veterans from each generation, including our own, are responsible for the shaping of our world and are the reason we are all here. They are our parents and grandparents.

The men who fought in World War II and the women who supported the war effort, at home and abroad, are also responsible for building up America’s economy after the war. They went back to work in the factories, in the stores, in the offices. They brought us back from the tail end of the Great Depression. They took advantage of the G.I. Bill and learned the value of a strong education, which they instilled in younger generations. It was a prosperous time. Then our country asked for their service again in 1951. So, many veterans went to Korea and fought until ’53, not even a decade after World War II.

They also gave birth to the Baby Boomers, who, for many of us, are our parents.

The Baby Boomers grew up in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. They watched the Iron Curtain rise and fall. They experienced the horrors of Vietnam and came home to a divided nation. They are our parents.

And now, our brothers, sisters and (still) our parents, fight for us. They’ve come back to a more supportive nation. For or against the war, we want our troops to come back alive and well.

Veterans Day is Monday. Everyone knows someone who served in some branch of the military during some time of war or conflict. Drafted or enlisted, they have and still do give up their time, energy and, unfortunately, lives for this country. You may argue that you never asked them to do that. We never said you did. That’s not the point. They believed so strongly in this country, in their families, in our safety, that they were willing to risk their lives.

This isn’t blind patriotism. This isn’t propaganda for the war in Iraq. This is just a simple reminder that you need to respect veterans. You may disagree with what they do. You may hate their boss. But, they are still human beings trying to do an incredibly dangerous job.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that World War II veterans are all older than 70 at this time. The average lifespan of an American man is about 75 years. The average lifespan of an American woman is about 80 years. The men and women who fought to stop Hitler, to stop Hirohito, are dying. Veterans Affairs estimates 1,000 veterans die each day. The same will happen with veterans of Korea and Vietnam soon. Blink and they’re gone.

The best way to honor veterans this year, and every day, is to talk to them. Give them your support. Listen to what they have to say. They risked their lives for this country. The least you could do is give them half an hour.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.