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Our View: Veterans Day gives everyone a chance to say thank you

During Thursday morning’s Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, noted having seen a gentleman earlier that day wearing a hat that identified him as a former member of the United States military. He recounted what happened when someone walked up and said thank you to him.

“The man got tears in his eyes,” Wantz said.

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Also on Thursday, after Francis Scott Key High School hosted its annual celebration of veterans, teacher Ryan Kimble recalled that, over the years, veterans — particularly Vietnam War-era veterans — have come up to him and told him that being thanked by the students was the first time they had ever been thanked for their service.

“The kids have the utmost respect for them,” Kimble told us. “We are so honored to have them in our building. They’re the ones willing to lay down their lives for us.”

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Indeed. So, while any time is a good time to thank a veteran for serving, Monday is the perfect day to express one’s gratitude.

Monday, of course, is Veterans Day. And it is the 100th anniversary of the holiday. It has been celebrated on Nov. 11 each year since 1919, when it was called Armistice Day, to commemorate that on Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — an armistice was signed in France by the allies and Germany, ending the war to end all wars. Armistice Day was celebrated the following year and to some degree for more than three decades. After World War II ended, a desire to honor all veterans, resulted in Nov. 11 being called Veterans Day, officially becoming a national holiday in 1954.

Some are confused about the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Celebrated in May, Memorial Day is a solemn holiday set aside to pay tribute to those who died while serving in the military. Veterans Day can be more celebratory, saluting all who have served in the military. The emphasis on the living gives everyone a chance to personally honor veterans in their own way.

While it is a national holiday and government offices are closed, Monday is not a day off from school. That is a good thing because it allows for more events like the one FSK held Thursday, in which veterans marched through the school and received handwritten thank-you notes from students. Most Carroll County Public Schools celebrate Veterans Day in some way, with many holding assemblies and inviting veterans, many of them relatives of students. This is a great way for students to learn about service and develop an appreciation for those who put their lives on the line for their country.

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And just because you aren’t in school doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning. The Community Media Center will observe Veterans Day with a special broadcast featuring interviews with Carroll County veterans. The broadcast will start at 9 a.m. Monday and continue all day on Channel HD-1086 and on cable Channel 19. Viewers can also watch the interviews online by visiting www.carrollhistory.org. According to a news release from the CMC, the goal of the Veterans Oral History Collection is not only to honor the courage and sacrifice of our local veterans, but also to preserve their memories and create a lasting resource to help educate future generations.

That’s a worthwhile goal. So check out their stories. And if you haven’t already been to an event honoring veterans, try to get out to one. Or at least heed Wantz’s advice.

“If you get a chance, there’s a lot of folks walking around [who are veterans]. Walk up and thank them,” he said Thursday. “It’s very important to do that.”

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