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Military veterans deserve our thanks and praise

ALBANY HERALD EDITORIAL: Without Americans willing to serve in the military, U.S. democracy could not survive

Today and Monday mark two days that should always be in the forefront of our minds.

Today, the U.S. Marine Corps, which has a significant presence in Southwest Georgia, celebrates its 238th birthday of serving as America’s 911 military force.

On Monday, America recognizes those who have served in all branches of military service on behalf of their nation with Veterans Day. A number of programs will be conducted in Albany to mark the occasion, not the least of which will be the Monday morning dedication of a monument to the Greatest Generation, the veterans who served during World War II.

The fact is, the United States is war weary after more than a decade of fighting waged overseas, activities that appear to be coming to a close. But those we have called upon to protect us are still going strong. Since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, we have asked a great deal of our military personnel, many of whom have served multiple tours in those foreign lands. It hasn’t helped that it has been difficult at times to determine friends from enemies in those campaigns.

But when the sun rises today, and tomorrow and the days afterward, it will be because selfless individuals like those who will be honored on Monday were willing to place their lives on the line for a nation and a set of principles that, for whatever failings we as a nation might have, have been a guiding beacon of freedom to the world for 237 years and counting.

And regardless of disclosures that have come out in recent months regarding spying and such, the United States is still the best thing going in the world today. When trouble hits, those who criticize America still turn to it for help.

That would not be possible without our military. Without Americans who are dedicated to preserving freedom — even the freedom for politicians to make mistakes — our nation would not be in the position it is now. When it comes down to it, technology isn’t the key to America’s survival. The key is the Americans who believe in America.

We are fortunate that our founders created a blueprint for democracy that has survived for more than two and a third centuries. We are fortunate that some of the best and brightest among us are willing to serve in the defense of our nation.

It’s been said that there is nothing darker than a bright candlelight that has been snuffed out. The men and women who daily pull on their uniforms — whether Marine, Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard — are the people who, since the Marines were formed months before our nation even came into being, have been charged with preventing that light from being extinguished.

It is a challenge that has been met and will continue to be met. Our nation is grateful for their sacrifice and service. We owe those who have served, who were injured and who died to protect us a debt that can never be repaid.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board