Thumbs up to veterans. They will be saluted at ceremonies throughout the Pee Dee Saturday, which is Veterans Day.

Veterans should be saluted every day, but we can’t have 365 holidays in a year (can we?), so this day is a special occasion to recognize special people. The people who have worn or are wearing military uniforms deserve our respect and admiration.

One of the ceremonies Saturday will be held at the Florence Veterans Park. It will begin at 11 a.m. – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – in recognition of the hour, day and month when the Germans signed the Armistice and a cease fire was ordered, ending World War I.

If you have never been to one of these ceremonies, we high recommend you take the time and make the effort. You will get chills, and not just because it will be nippy this morning. Get there early. Take a chair.

The ceremony will include an Armed Forces Medley. As the anthem of a particular military branch is sung, veterans from that branch are encouraged to stand and wave.

The national anthem never sounds better. The Pledge of Allegiance echoes throughout the park that will be was filled with hundreds of people.

This is what Veterans Day is supposed to be. Florence does it well.

Thumbs up to a new monument that will be unveiled Saturday at the extraordinary park that is one of Florence’s finest jewels. This latest in a series of spectacular monuments commemorates the Vietnam War. The monolith, fabricated by Brown Memorials, is made of the same black granite as last year's U.S. Army monument, and it features myriad textures on one side and art etched by Dan Garrison on the other. It has been placed at the back of the park to the south of the wall inscribed with the enlistment oath. The monument, which resembles a V, features several textures surrounding words denoting the dates the war was fought and a couple of military medals on one side.

We’re pleased to see a monument dedicated to Vietnam veterans. Most of them were drafted into a long and unpopular conflict. They did their duty. Those who survived came home scarred mentally and physically. They also were scorned by fellow Americans who did not support our nation’s involvement in a civil war halfway across the world. Not supporting that cause is one thing; scorning our soldiers is another. Shame on Americans who treated these veterans poorly.

Thumbs up to members of the American Legion. These are special veterans. One of them – Fred H. Sexton American Legion Post 1 adjutant Ken Curran – spoke Friday at a Veterans Day ceremony at Sneed Middle School. He shared his speech with the Morning News, and we’d like to share an excerpt. …

“We remember how young men and women set aside their civilian pursuits – jobs, school and family responsibilities – in order to serve their country. They left to defend freedom of mankind and preserve our precious American heritage. My father and five uncles enlisted and served during World War II.

“We believe our strength on the battlefield came from the justice of our cause against the forces of evil. We believe our determination made us better warriors because we fought with our minds and heart as well with our bodies. We recognize that service to our country and her cause does not stop with the end of military service. We continue our endeavorson behalf of world peace with a feeling of profound gratitude to God and to the men and women who gave their lives as their part of the cost of this noblest of causes.

“Out of blood and sweat we learned of purpose, sacrifice, tolerance, bravery and discipline. These are solid foundation stones upon which a great nation is built.

“Those who offered their lives sacrificed everything with magnificent abandon. Heroism became contagious. Let us strive to see that same spirit of self-sacrifice cultivated in peace, as it was in war.

“We in the American Legion are wartime veterans dedicated to supporting veterans, their families and our community. Legionnaires continue to serve their country, sacrifice their time and energy to help veterans in need. This is the spirit that we hope to convey to you, our future leaders.

“The American Legion sponsors the Post 1 Legion baseball team – state champions. We send 43 young boys and girls to a weeklong Boys & Girls State program where they learn how government works, teamwork and lifetime friendships. The Legion also runs an oratorical competition so students can try to win scholarships. We proudly participate in community programs at the Veterans Park and the National Cemetery. We are bound together by our commitment to duty, honor, country.

“Take pride in your country, her veterans and yourselves. Pursue your dreams.

“In closing, I thank you and hope that you will do us all proud by honoring our veterans, not just today and tomorrow, but all days. When you see a person in a military uniform or wearing a cap or shirt showing that they served, go up to them and say, ‘Thank you for your service.’

“God bless America.”

God bless our veterans.

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The Morning News seeks thumbs-up and thumbs-down nominations for both good and bad deeds from our readers. Send nominations to us by email at letters@florencenews.com. Be sure use the word “thumb” in the subject and include a contact number. Thumbs can also be mailed to us c/o The Morning News, 310 S. Dargan St., Florence, S.C., 29506.

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