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This Veterans Day, show gratitude for those who serve

When I was kid growing up in Tallahassee, we had three channels. Channel 6 was the CBS affiliate, Channel 11 was the PBS station and when my father went out in the yard and turned the antenna just right, we could pick up Channel 7 in Panama City and watch NBC.

Then one day in 1974 they ran this wire into the house and hooked it up to the television. And suddenly, we had 12 channels.

Twelve.

Seriously, 12.

I was overjoyed.

One of the stations came out of Atlanta, WTCG. Long before it became the "superstation," it aired Braves baseball games, black and white movies from the '30s and '40s and TV shows like Father Knows Best and The Andy Griffith Show.

Every now and then in between movies, they would show World War II-era commercials about supporting the war and buying war bonds and a collective effort.

They talked about the rationing of gas, tires, sugar, coffee and other goods. Stars would sing American anthems and give meaningful speeches. They talked about pulling together.

Believe it or not, it was from these old images that I first gained my sense of patriotism. It became clear to me that during World War II, the effort involved every citizen — every man, woman, boy and girl.

Back then, from what I could gather, being a nation at war meant the nation could never forget about the sacrifices our soldiers were making overseas because we were making sacrifices at home.

I don't know how people would respond today if grocery stores limited how much cheese and butter you could buy, and gas stations limited us to 3 gallons a day.

But maybe this Veterans Day weekend would resonate in a different way.

Maybe you wouldn't have some people who scoff and say, "I feel bad for the people who died, but they knew the risks when they signed up."

Really?

Don't get me wrong. Most of us still care. You can find TV commercials that salute veterans and politicians who honor their service.

You can even find proper homage in Chicken Fried, the Zac Brown Band's ode to easy Southern living.

Salute the ones who died

The ones that give their lives

So we don't have to sacrifice

All the things we love

People cheer when soldiers return safely, and line the streets for sad processionals of flag-covered coffins.

Locally, you don't have to look far to find events that raise money to support veterans this weekend and throughout the year. All involve gratitude.

But sometimes I wonder, if every citizen truly had to share in the anguish and anger and sorrow, even in a small way, would there be a greater appreciation. What if we did have to "sacrifice all the things we love"?

Frankly, I wouldn't mind giving up something to show we're in the struggle together.

Veterans need to know we're with them. Take some time this weekend, even if it's only a moment, to remember the fallen or comfort the wounded or pray for those who continue to serve.

Offer a handshake to our men and women in uniform.

Lend an embrace to the moms and dads, brothers and sisters, family and friends who have lost a loved one.

There can never be too many people standing up for the courageous American men and women of the military.

That's all I'm saying.

This Veterans Day, show gratitude for those who serve 11/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, November 8, 2012 3:30am]
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