Today is Veterans Day, one of the three days each year we honor our military. Each Nov. 11, we celebrate the service of all those who have completed their service in the military. Each May, we celebrate Armed Services Day to honor those currently serving and Memorial Day, honoring those who lost their lives in military service.
For those of us who have no military background, Veterans Day is probably the most relatable.
Some of us may have family members who are honored on Memorial Day. Many of us have family members who are in active duty and are honored on Armed Forces Day. But it seems just about all of us have someone in our family who has served in the military and is honored on this day.
The latest data shows that there are 200,000 veterans living in Mississippi. Of that group, more than 7,000 live in our coverage area: Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Clay and Noxubee Counties.
More than half of our area veterans (4,300) live in Lowndes County. In fact, veterans make up an impressive 7.5 percent of the Lowndes County population.
Another 1,600 veterans live in Oktibbeha County, 1,000 in Clay County and 310 in Noxubee County.
That so many veterans live in Lowndes County is most likely attributable to the presence of Columbus Air Force Base. The county’s long relationship with CAFB started during World War II and has become a vital part of our community. Many of our Lowndes County veterans arrived here as active duty military stationed at CAFB. That so many would return to make Lowndes County their homes is probably as strong a testament to the bond between the military and the community as you could find. Even those who spent only a small portion of their military service at CAFB often return here to make their homes when their time in the service has ended.
Those folks at CAFB we honor each May on Armed Forces Day become the folks we later honor in November on Veterans Day.
Our community takes great pride in that.
All of us should realize the important service our veterans have performed for our nation. Many were called into combat. Far many more stood ready and an even greater number performed vital support roles of our combat troops or served our country in other essential ways. What we can say of all veterans is that each served an important role in maintaining our freedoms as a sovereign nation.
Every veteran, no matter the nature of his or her service, deserves to be acknowledged on this day. We have heard from some veterans that they prefer not to be greeted with a “Thank you for your service,” but that is by no means a universal view. We are confident that no matter how you say it, an expression of sincere gratitude will be welcomed.
As the data indicates, no matter where your day takes you, you are likely to encounter a veteran somewhere along the way. We urge you to acknowledge those veterans on this day set aside for their honor.
Let’s not let the day pass without making that effort.
This is one of those occasions where we hope you don’t hear it here first: Even so, Happy Veterans Day to all of you who have served our country so well and so honorably.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.