According to the Veterans Administration, an estimated 22 million veterans were living in the U.S. in 2014. Their numbers, combined with the 1.4 million active duty soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, amount to 7.3 percent of the U.S. population.
Think of it! As we go about our daily lives, working at our jobs, taking care of our families — enjoying the fruits of liberty — we do so with the realization that we owe our freedoms to less than 10 percent of our countrymen.
Today is Veterans Day in the United States. It’s a day set aside to honor those of our countrymen who set aside their civilian lives, took the oath to the Constitution, traveled in a bus to a place like Parris Island, S.C., endured weeks of rigorous training and abuse, and in many cases were deployed to the “Sandbox” to wage war against an enemy who regards them as godless “infidels.”
This scenario is reserved for those who have worn the uniform since the first Gulf War. But this day is also reserved for those who fought in the rice paddies of South Vietnam, the freezing mountain passes of Chosin Reservoir, South Korea; the snow-covered Ardennes forest outside Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge, and on the bloody sands of Iwo Jima.
Those who served in World War I and before are long since dead. The last American “doughboy” was Frank Woodruff Buckles (1901-2011), who enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 16 and served as a corporal in both world wars. He died at the age of 108 on February 27, 2011.
Cpl. Buckles was a soldier in the so-called “Great War.” It was supposed to be the “war to end all wars,” but the world found itself back on the battlefield 20 years later. The Armistice was signed with the Central Powers on the “eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” November 11, 1918.
Today is a special day for Waycrossans Danny and Judy Barnes, who waged a successful fund-raising campaign to raise $12,000 for the erection of a memorial to our community’s war dead.
That memorial will be unveiled and dedicated in Plant Park at 10:30 a.m. today. It prominently features the names of those from this community who gave their lives in  foreign wars.
We urge our readers to attend this important dedication ceremony.