Veterans deserve better recognition

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

SPIN, CRASH AND BURN! The three most dreaded words in the English language among helicopter pilots and crew.

A Chinook helicopter is shot down in Iraq 40 miles southwest of Baghdad. It burns! 15 American soldiers are dead and 20 or more injured.

The soldiers were being ferried to Baghdad Airport to depart Iraq on leave. Imagine the indescribable pain of their family and loved ones back home awaiting their arrival only to learn that instead of a joyful reunion nothing but a funeral is in store.

A soldier, sailor, marine, airman or airwoman really asks for only one thing from the folks back home and that is to be appreciated; and to be told by word or action that they are appreciated.

As is so often the case, it is the little things that matter the most. For example, Andalusia Middle School students host a Veteran's (Appreciation) Day. Area veterans are invited to their school. The American flag "Old Glory" is paraded. Sincere words are spoken. Maybe best of all though the students write individual letters to area veterans thanking us for our service and inviting us to their school's ceremony. I have already received two such letters, and I am sure that many other veterans have as well. I treasure them.

This event has been held for over a decade. Since September 11, 2001, it has taken on even more meaning.

Let me ask you a question, see if there is something wrong with this scenario.

The City of Andalusia celebrates Halloween on Court Square, but that same Court Square remains idle on Veteran's Day.

If Andalusia Middle School students can thank veterans on Veteran's Day for their service to our country why can't the City of Andalusia officialdom? According to news reports the City of Andalusia officialdom is visiting Hyundai in South Korea exploring the possibility for a spin-off plant. If it had not been for American servicemen and women fighting and dying, there would be no South Korea to visit.

Let's cut to the chase - America's "War On Terror" is not another Vietnam. The North Vietnamese never attacked mainland USA. The terrorists have and will again - count on it!

It is not the South Vietnamese we are defending. It is "us," our freedoms and our way of life that we protect; and the only way to do that is to take the offensive. Either the bad guys win or the good guys win. It is a continuing fight, and it will not be easy or pretty! If you don't believe me, ask the families of the 15 dead soldiers who died aboard that Chinook helicopter.