Editorial: They Walk Among Us

The annual Cos Cob Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10112 Veterans Day ceremony took place Saturday. (Matthew Bracchitta photo)

Veterans Day is Saturday, Nov. 11. The fifth annual Community Patriotic Walk will take place down Greenwich Avenue, which is meant to honor and thank the brave servicemen and women who fought to defend our country and our freedoms. The walk begins at the corner of Amogerone Way and Greenwich Avenue at 10:15 a.m., and proceeds to the Memorial in front of the Board of Education building.

At 11 a.m., sharp, the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care in cooperation with American Legion Post 29 will hold their annual Veterans Day wreath-laying and 21-gun salute at the war memorial in front of Restoration Hardware. You should make time to attend both of these events to honor all who have served our nation to defend and protect our freedoms.

The time of 11 a.m., sharp for the wreath laying is significant. The armistice that ended the fighting of the “war to end all wars” went into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 – 99 years ago.  For many years we celebrated “Armistice Day” and eventually after World War II and the Korean War, congress acted to make Nov. 11 Veterans Day in recognition of all veterans who served during times of war.

Talk to a veteran today and you are likely to speak with someone who does not want to recognize their military service above that of someone else who served. They will tell you they were called to go forward because of a “love of country” or that they were “one more guy with a rifle who answered the call to serve their country and protect all that we hold sacred.”  They describe themselves as a cog in a wheel and they are, to a person, modest. When they are identified as a veteran at an event and asked to stand they do so reluctantly. They do not seek that accolade for themselves. They do stand, but they stand to honor those who served before. Our veterans are part of a continuous line of patriots who first picked up a rifle to fight for freedom in 1775 and who will stand the line in the future to protect our freedoms.

On Saturday, we will see our veterans. We see them every day without knowing it. They walk among us, but because of their modesty we do not necessarily identify them as veterans. There is no firm number of how many residents are veterans. Looking at census data and making some assumptions there could be more than 5,000 people living in Greenwich who have put themselves into harm’s way for their country.

What you will not see are our future veterans, or those currently serving in the military; there are more serving currently from Greenwich than you might think. From one church alone in town, there are seven people serving, including two brothers. They epitomize what it is to be a citizen soldier and there should be more of them. The more people that are touched by someone who serves the more we, as a community and country, have at stake. It ensures that when we go to war, we are not making that decision lightly.

Democracy is not democracy without citizenship and citizenship requires service back to your community and your country. Veterans understand that service better than most, and as a result they look out for each other and share a special bond. Whether they stood on the same battlefield together or served in different part of the world at different times, there is a unique brotherhood and sisterhood that only they share.  As one veteran recently said, “If you are a vet, you are part of my herd. I protect my herd.”

We should all take time Saturday morning to gather downtown and thank those who were willing to lay down their lives for us. They answered the call to serve their country.  Some may have been reluctant to do so and we, as a community and country, certainly did not support their service and sacrifice at times as we should have. Saturday is an opportunity to pause and reflect on those who were willing to take up arms to defend our country and protect our freedoms and the sacrifices they made in doing so. It is an opportunity to say “thank you” for their service.

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