In our opinion: Because of those who sacrifice for freedom, the importance of Veterans Day will never cease – Deseret News

This year, Veterans Day comes only two days after the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thats a happy coincidence.

The world-changing events of that day highlighted the value of freedom and liberty, but it also brought to focus the great sacrifices of selfless veterans who have carried out battles in the name of freedom throughout the history of the United States.

Few things are as stirring as watching World War II veterans being brought to Washington as part of the Honor Flight program. Wherever they go, people part the way and begin to applaud. Parents tell their children they are watching history. Eyes fill with tears of appreciation.

Without the efforts of these veterans, the Berlin Wall never would have been built because all of Germany, and much of the rest of the world, would have been in subjugation, held in check by an invisible wall of tyranny.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates only 389,292 WWII veterans were still alive as of September, and they are dying at a rate of about 348 per day. The department also estimates the last veteran of that war will pass away in 2044.

For the sake of context, 16,112,566 members of the armed forces served during that war. For many, it was the most important event of their lives. Given their heroism and the wars outcome, the same can be said for the free world.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about members of that generation is their reluctance to talk about their experiences in the war. The New York Times recently published a story about this phenomenon, and about how many children of these heroes, too scared to ask for details while their fathers were alive, are now contacting the National World War II Museum in New Orleans or the National Archives to fill in the blanks.

Of the reluctance to talk, the Times said, Many of the Americans who fought to crush the Axis in World War II came home feeling the same way so many, in fact, that those lauded as the Greatest Generation might just as easily be called the Quietest.

Most likely, many of them experienced things too gruesome to relate. Reassimilating into the mundane routines of everyday life in a civilized, peace-time United States must have been an enormous challenge, at a time when few men sought mental health treatment or therapy.

But as the lives of these heroes come to an end, its important to compile and tell their stories. Freedom is indeed not free, and the price of our freedom should be known.

Veterans Day was born at the end of a previous conflict, WWI, which ended when Germany signed an armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. That was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but the string of despots, dictators and terrorists seems to be never ending.

The last veteran of that first world war, a man who served in the British Navy, died in 2012 at the age of 110. The last American soldier in that war died a year earlier, also at the age of 110.

Thank goodness Veterans Day did not die with them. And thank goodness the string of men and women willing to sacrifice all for the freedom of others is never-ending, as well.

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In our opinion: Because of those who sacrifice for freedom, the importance of Veterans Day will never cease - Deseret News

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