Editorial: Veterans Day about more than just vacation time

This Wednesday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day.

True to form, University of Maine students are readying themselves to celebrate.

Undergraduates will almost certainly take keen advantage of the day off for the noble pursuit of quiet reflection, deep appreciation of the United States’ numerous liberties and honoring those who have served both domestically and abroad.

Or perhaps not.

In light of the approaching holiday, a day dedicated to contemplating the sacrifices of those who have served, it’s important not to forget the real reason for a midweek oasis of vacation time.

Which isn’t to say that the entire day must be spent in fervent, punishing worship of an institution that, frankly, many disagree with the activities of. The purpose of Veterans Day is not to evoke a feeling of compelled endorsement for the conflicts the United States partakes in.

Rather, it is to understand and respect that, even should the individual disagree with the many engagements and actions of the United States’ military, there are still many persuasive reasons to appreciate those in its ranks.

It is not too much to ask that, even among the innumerable pressures of college life, individuals take at least a brief respite to applaud the selfless actions of the people who protect their country. Regardless of personal feelings on the particulars of foreign engagement, the actions of soldiers, sailors and spies still play a direct role in protecting all of those who live securely in the United States.

Because, though veterans are certainly not infallible, they are honorable in their most basic pursuit: freedom and security. It is not your local active duty officer making the choice to engage in Syria, Libya or Iraq. The only decision they are making is to follow orders.

As much as this country celebrates love, parenthood and marriage, so too should an action as bold as independently and purposefully entering an active conflict to protect one’s fellow citizens be celebrated.

If these days worshiping mothers, fathers and romantic affection can be cleared on a busy college schedule, so too can days seeking to venerate the persons responsible for the stable environment Americans live in. Those living in an environment that feels so little impact from the tragic events worldwide — thanks primarily to the insulating power of a diligent, professional and responsive military — certainly have much to be grateful for.

So put down the textbooks, just for a moment, and consider the comfortable reality of living in a country so comprehensively protected — thanks to the sacrifices of so many.

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