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Talking It Over -- Honoring a soldier's life

On Tuesday, Nov. 11, we honor a very important group of people - veterans. These dedicated individuals hold, and have held, a vital role in our past, present and future.

A few years ago, when my siblings and I were going through the personal items of my parents, we ran across a box of letters my dad had written to my mom when he was serving in World War II. Last year, my sister took those letters, carefully typed each one and put them in a book for us to keep. It was a treasure and something I enjoy reading whenever I get a chance.

Things were very different for soldiers then. One of the biggest things I noticed when reading the letters was the lack of communication. Families and soldiers could go for months with no contact with their loved ones. Letters home were carefully sensored and mail call at camps was the highlight of a day or week. Soldiers anxiously awaited letters from girlfriends, wives, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, pastors and anyone else who took the time to write to them. Their free time was often occupied with responding to each of those letters.

The battles were also very different. It can never be easy to take up arms against an enemy while watching people you have come to know and care for die during battle. The climate and terrains were also very different and not easy to adjust to. Once again, details in those days were sensored and even after soldiers returned home, they kept them inside and only shared them with other soldiers.

While things have changed in many ways for our soldiers today, it is still very difficult. They have better communication with family, more modern conditions in which to live and more sophisticated techniques used to do battle. However, they also have an enemy that uses terrorism, hidden devices and even children to do damage. Chemical warfare is a real and prevalent danger. They can never feel safe walking or driving along a road or even shopping or eating in those countries, never knowing when a suicide bomber will strike.

In some ways, when it comes to fighting terrorism, we are all soldiers. We need to be watchful and prepared to give our own life in order to save countless others if a terroristic attack takes place in our country. Our soldiers are not the only ones who need to put our country first in order to ensure freedom.

I am so thankful for our veterans of yesterday and our soldiers of today. Freedom is something that we often take for granted, but it's only granted after long battles, diligent negotiations and many sacrifices.