These are troubled times. At home, adrift in endless stories of buyouts, bailouts and burgeoning government spending, some Americans have let slip from their consciousness the fact that men and women are risking their lives in service to this country everyday.
After all, Afghanistan and Iraq are on the other side of the globe. We've been there for eight years - longer than World War I and II combined. There's little live coverage and the troops don't produce scandal or intrigue. Surely, someone else is paying attention; perhaps a relative or loved one. And the news media will let us know if something important happens, right?
Not likely. The war in Afghanistan has been pushed to the back pages, only to be mentioned when the debate over troop levels becomes a political football.
The simple fact is replacing tyranny with freedom through military force is a long, tedious process - even without an ongoing and deadly insurgency. We found that out in Germany, where the occupation after World War II took the better part of 10 years. United States occupation of post-war Japan was not complete until 1952. The U.S. still maintains 47,000 troops in Japan, by invitation, more than 60 years later. That's only 21,000 fewer than the number of troops trying to stabilize Afghanistan.
The fact we don't see more media coverage about our Armed Forces in Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, is no excuse for our inattentiveness.
Veterans Day is more than a day off of work or a chance to buy a cheap TV.
Veterans Day is the one day a year when Americans can atone for all those other days we fail to keep our Armed Forces in mind - despite continuing to sleep under the very blanket of freedom they provide.
On Memorial Day, we remember the fallen. Today, we remember the living.
Today, take a moment to thank that veteran who works in the next cubicle, or serving your lunch. Send an e-mail to that cousin just back from Iraq and thank him for doing the job we couldn't or didn't want to do. Stop by a veteran's home, or military hospital, and ask to spend some time with that elderly veteran who helped save the world in 1944.
If you happen to be our President, do your part by giving our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines whatever support they need to complete their mission - including more troops.
Here in Texas, actions speak louder than words. Texans show their support by providing our veterans with benefits unmatched anywhere in the nation. In Texas, veterans enjoy the support of an array of veterans' agencies and programs, from free parking, to special below-market loans for land or home purchases. Texas veterans have access to first-class, long-term care facilities at the Texas state veterans homes and a dignified final resting place at state-owned veterans cemeteries. I am fortunate to oversee many of these benefits here at the Texas Veterans Land Board.
These benefits are due to not only those who risked their lives, but all veterans who were willing to step forward to serve our nation in whatever capacity they could.
On Veterans Day, we should not only thank a veteran, but be thankful that there are such men and women.
For more information on veterans benefits, please go to www.texasveterans.com