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Thoughts about our last Independence Day of the 1900sE

by Bernie Curtis

Last weekend, we celebrated our Independence Day, the last Fourth of July before the year 2000. I looked at the large gatherings of people at the many events I attended and found myself wondering about the real heroes of our America. Douglas County has many heroes who quietly live and work here in our community – they participate in community affairs and events without compensation, without recognition in many cases and without much notice.

In the past several decades we, as a society, have praised and emulated movie stars, sports heroes and television or media personalities. Only a few of these people can actually live up to the term “hero.” Mostly, when their personal values and past deeds are examined, they fall far short.

The people that I am writing about are our former and present military men and women who have served America proudly. Many of our young people were not living in the time when our men and women left the comfort of our communities to go to foreign lands to fight America’s enemies – to preserve our freedoms and our way of life.

Wars, conflicts and military service have always taken our best from us. I remember men and women leaving their families and not returning or finally coming home after several years in some foreign land. Once finally home, I remember seeing that these men and women were physically and emotionally changed by what they had done or seen. They had served our country when called upon to do so. They had given a good portion of their lives to keep America the land of the free and the home of the brave. Many made the ultimate sacrifice.

Mostly, I find they will not freely talk about their experiences in service to our country. They speak of it only when asked and with quiet, reverent humility and in hushed, unassuming, modest terms.

It has been an experience, though, that has defined their contributions to our country and to our community. It brings with it hard work, dedication, ethics, positive thinking, morality and patriotism. Our veterans and service men and women contribute in a positive and thoughtful way. They did not sit on the sidelines to whine and snivel about what was going to happen to them. They went forward to serve so that we could live this American dream. They continue to serve by example each and every day.

Our military men and women, whether they have served in war or in peace, are to be honored and revered. They are America’s heroes. Thank you for your service to our country.

For what you have given to us in past years, for what you are giving to us today and for what you mean to this country, we all salute you – the guardians of our freedom.

Thank God that you were, and are, there for all of us.

n Bernie Curtis represents Douglas County commissioner District No. 3.