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Tribune editorial: America honors veterans' sacrifices

Today is Veterans Day 2005. As the United States observes this day, 25 million veterans along with the rest of our citizens continue enjoying America's precious freedom.

America has a long history of honoring those brave veterans -- the men and women who fought in defense of our country. The tradition began with Gen. George Washington, who told the nation of the "debt of gratitude ... and honor" the country owes its troops who fought and won the Revolutionary War.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln stressed the importance of the country's commitment by pledging to care for "him who has born the battle, and his widow and his orphan." Those immortal words from his second inaugural address are now inscribed at the entrance of the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Following World War I, President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11, 1919, as the first Armistice Day. "The American people have a deep and abiding gratitude for those who have raised their hand, put on the uniform, gone wherever asked and done whatever asked to preserve (our) way of life ... and ... our freedom," he said.

President George W. Bush recently cited "the great debt of gratitude for those who have sacrificed" for liberty and security.

Today Americans will gather in ceremonies in west central Minnesota and around the country to honor those who have stepped up to serve their country. That is a good thing.

It does not matter whether you support America's involvement in the Iraq War or not. Each American has a responsibility to honor and support the troops who volunteer to serve and go wherever and whenever they are asked.

And Americans' support for veterans should not end at the end of Veterans Day.

In fact, when you see a veteran today or any other day of the year, step up and thank them for their service. It is the least every American can do for those who have served America and protected our freedoms.

To every veteran, we thank you for your service.