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Ken Beaton: Thank a vet

Ken Beaton
This is a Carson City resident's Halloween recreation of the Feb. 23, 1945, raising of the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima by six Marines. Only three of the flag raisers survived the battle. Photographer Joe Rosenthal was awarded the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for his photo.
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“Our schools don’t teach civics anymore!” “Our elementary students aren’t learning cursive penmanship!” Do you agree with either or both of those statements? If you agree with either of those statements, you took the path of least resistance. Because there was nobody standing up with a contrary opinion to test the validity of those statements. Did you personally visit several schools to learn firsthand what they’re teaching or are not teaching?

Four years ago for Veterans Day, I reminded my readers of the bumper sticker, “If you enjoy your freedom, thank a vet.” Who has thanked at least one vet in the past four years? Raise your hand. I’m not seeing many hands.

Excuse me, sir, you with the corners of your mouth turned down. Don’t try to use the line on me, “I’d thank a vet if I saw a vet.” I feel sorry for your unpatriotic excuse. You haven’t visited enough coffee shops in Carson City. You didn’t visit any of the grocery or the big-box stores. Did you visit any of the restaurants that feature “Early Bird Dinner Specials?” Have you attended a “Nevada Veteran of the Month” ceremony in Nevada’s Capitol?

In 1992, along U.S. Route 1 in Maine’s “Down East” community of Harrington, Merrill Worcester’s Wreath Company had an excess of Christmas wreaths in December. U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe made arrangements for the excess wreaths to be placed at grave markers in an older section of Arlington National Cemetery. James Prout volunteered his trucking company to deliver the wreaths to Virginia. Local American Legion and VFW volunteers tied a red bow on each wreath and placed it at a grave marker. In 2005, a WAA picture posted on the Internet went viral.

“Join us on National Wreaths Across America Day, Dec. 14, 2019. Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well at more than 1,600 additional locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.” The local mailing address is Nevada Veterans Coalition, P.O. Box 415, Fernley, Nev., 89408. If you’re a photographer, capture a “Kodak moment” when all the green wreaths with red bows have been laid in front of the 8,000 white marble grave markers at Fernley’s Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Don’t try to tell me why you can’t be a volunteer for Wreaths Across America. I want you to remember obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goal. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Show us your colors, red, white and blue.

The Great War, also known as World War I, lasted four years and three months. It was the first “total war,” responsible for tens of millions of deaths, civilian and military. The British Commonwealth of Nations, France and Italy named Nov. 11 Remembrance Day. The United States called Nov. 11th Armistice Day.

In June 1954, the U.S. Congress passed a law changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day on Nov. 11, honoring all our veterans, not just World War I vets. Between World War II and the Korean War’s “Police Action,” there were more than 16 million veterans.

This year Veterans Day is Monday, a three-day weekend. It’s a federal and Nevada holiday. Join Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and community volunteers to plant a flag beside every veteran’s grave marker in Carson City’s Lone Mountain Cemetery.

Several times each year, Honor Flight Nevada pays all the expenses to fly about 30 male and female vets to Washington, D.C. They spend a Saturday visiting all the veteran memorials in our nation’s capital. Each vet is given a red T-shirt. Printed on the back of the T-shirt is, “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.”

From 1941 to 1945, 130 million Americans were involved in the “homefront” or the “war front.” If those Americans had not joined together to defeat Germany and Japan, you’d be speaking and writing Japanese today. Have you ever complained about learning to read, spell and write in English? Think of the fun time you’d have when you made a mistake trying to learn Japanese. You’d have the back of your hands hit with a swiftly moving bamboo stick. Oh, I almost forgot, you’d know how to bow properly. Your menu selection would be a bowl of fish heads and rice with live insects? Psst, consider the insects protein and your “meal” will be easier to swallow. Americans prisoners in Japan ate that menu every day of their captivity. Now, are you motivated to thank our vets for their service?