Editorial: They Walk Among Us

“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Veteran’s Day is this Saturday, November 11.

There are several events in town to commemorate the day. There will be a “Patriotic Walk” down Greenwich Avenue in honor of our veterans. The walk begins at the corner of Amogerone Way and Greenwich Avenue at 10:30 a.m. and proceeds down to the World War I memorial in front of Restoration Hardware.

Later in the day, the Byram Veterans Association will hold their annual walk from their club at 300 Delavan Avenue to the Byram Firehouse at 12:00noon.

At 11 a.m. sharp Saturday, our American Legion Post 29 will hold its annual Veterans Day wreath laying at the war memorial in front of Restoration Hardware. You should make time to attend these events to honor all who have served our nation, to defend and protect our freedoms.

The time of the wreath laying – 11 o’clock sharp – 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 – 104 years ago. For many years we celebrated “Armistice Day,” and eventually, after a Second World War and the Korean War, Congress acted to make November 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 that 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 are, to a person, modest. When they are identified as a veteran at an event and asked to stand, they often do so reluctantly. They do not seek that accolade for themselves. They do stand, but they stand to honor all who served. 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 already 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, we know there could be as many as 4,000 people living in Greenwich who have put themselves into harm’s way for their country.

What you will not see are our future veterans, those currently serving in the military. There are more serving currently from Greenwich than you might think. From one church in town alone, 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 one another and share a special bond. Whether they stood on the same battlefield together or served in different parts 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 thank those who answered the call to serve their country.

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