Wednesday, November 10, 1999
Bond of faithful service links America's veterans

Guest Editorial

What is it about America's veterans that brings us together on Veterans Day? Are we living in the past — attempting to capture a fleeting moment in time that has long since passed? Certainly not!

What brings veterans together for Veterans day is a bond formed in uniform. It is the bond that is entwined within our hearts and minds, which is simply stated: I shall not fail those with whom I serve.

It has been more than a quarter century since the guns fell silent in Vietnam. Longer still for Korea — and nearly a lifetime for World War II. Yet, that bond of military service, which transcends the years, compels us to come together and keep the faith with those with whom we served.

This final Veterans Day of the 20th century will include observances with the youngest generation of veterans, the men and women of the Persian Gulf War. These are Americans who sacrificed for others. These are Americans who continue to serve us in uniform. These are Americans who will gather on many more Veterans Days because they also feel that common bond.

As young American military members spend this day deployed in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, at sea and in distant remote locations, it is appropriate for all of us as a nation to take the time to say, “Thank you.”

Ironically, this Veterans Day comes on the heels of a disclosure by the Pentagon that a drug given our troops might cause Gulf War illness. It is tragic that it took nearly a decade to make this discovery. Without a common bond between veterans, compelling them to keep the pressure on the government, there would have been no studies.

It is this common bond that compels us to continue to struggle to find answers for what is right and demand that our nation provide a strong veterans health care system for those who gave so much when called upon. As veterans we have kept our bond of service to our nation. As veterans we ask that our government keep faith with us.

That is why we gather on this Veterans Day. That is why all Americans should gather with veterans this day. For America's veterans are a special group of men and women — bonded through service, committed to the future.

[Alan G. Lance, Sr., is the national commander of the 2.8-million-member American Legion and the attorney general for Idaho.]

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