Enjoying Your Freedom? Thank A Vet

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You'd be hard put to find any adult nowadays who would disagree with the contention that we all need to do a better job of recognizing and appreciating the men and women who fought to preserve the freedoms we too often take for granted.
Or that we all need to do a better job of making sure our young people are aware of and understand the sacrifices that veterans made and why they made them.
It is the level of that need that may be escaping our mental grasp and which was brought into clear view at Payson High School during a Veterans Appreciation Week of study leading up to Monday's Veterans Day observances.
PHS English teacher Simone Lake discovered that an alarming number of her writing-class students were "simply unaware" of veterans or the sacrifices they made to protect our fundamental freedoms and way of life.
This is not an incomprehensible situation. After all, it has been many years since the United States drafted young people into the military, and it has been many, many years since a dominant war captured the concerns of young people the way World War II and the Vietnam conflict did in their respective eras.
Although the events of Sept. 11 have built some protect-and-serve awareness, Lake observed, the concept still seemed far removed for many of her students.
So she set out to correct the problem.
Friday, Lake's writing classes visited with several Rim country veterans, who recounted their experiences and the effect war had on their lives.
Many of Lake's students paid a visit to Ponderosa Manor, a local veterans' home, where they delivered cards and letters expressing their appreciation, hung banners and signs they had made, and drew memories of horror and hardship and injury and death and government mistreatment from even more veterans.
All of whom said they would gladly do it again.
It was an eye-opening experience for the students and their teacher. The last of the three classes to visit Ponderosa Manor spontaneously lined up, shook the veterans' hands, and thanked them for what they sacrificed.
As the young people were leaving, one veteran said, "Please don't just come because it's Veterans Day. We never get any visitors.'"
That is the most important lesson learned by Lake's students one which all of us too easily forget.
Don't remember just because it's Veterans Day. Remember our veterans every day you find yourself enjoying freedom.

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