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Opinion: Veterans understand what it’s like to live in uncertain times

Every November we honor, remember and thank our Veterans. This year, during a global health pandemic, we can all be especially grateful for the courage and dedication of our veterans as they have always understood what it’s like to live in uncertain times, and to make sacrifices for the safety of others.

Veterans Day was first known as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. In 1954, it became Veterans Day, paying tribute to all veterans in all conflicts. Today, the observance is truly all-inclusive and allows us to pay tribute to all military veterans, living or deceased. Above all, this day reminds us that none of our freedoms, in times of hardship or celebration, would be possible without our servicemen and women.

On every Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., members of each military branch attend a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents all of America’s fallen heroes, particularly those who died in action and could not be identified. The tomb and the yearly ceremony surrounding it – in which the president places a wreath on the tomb – are an important reminder to us all: our veterans are willing to give their lives for us because they are selfless. They do not serve to bring themselves glory, but do so out of love for their country; out of respect for our freedoms; and out of the belief that Americans are truly equal.

Remember that many of our veterans need housing, medical care and counseling when they return home, and that the families of our fallen veterans are also in need of our support. Some groups you may want to donate to include Vietnam Veterans of AmericaDisabled American VeteransVeterans of Foreign WarsThe American Legion and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Our veterans are continuing to show their bravery and sacrifice even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our retired veterans with a medical background have volunteered their services during this pandemic, joining our first responders in putting their lives on the line to keep us all safe. It’s a testament to the fact that all year round, no matter the circumstances, our veterans are always worthy of our assistance and respect.

President Barack Obama had this to say, on the importance of honoring our veterans at all times: “It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need, and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America.”

Please remember to safely thank your local veterans on Nov. 11, and every day of the year, especially your friends, neighbors and family members. Going to an in-person Veterans Day ceremony may not be possible this year, so if you want to honor our servicemen and women, consider making a charitable donation online.

May God bless our veterans and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Ronald G. Rios is the director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He writes the occasional column for Newspaper Media Group.

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