Election season is upon us.

During the next year, people will have signs in their yard. Some will be out campaigning. Others will post their political preferences on Facebook.

Before you know it, we will head to the polls, and mark our ballots. No one will be looking over our shoulder.

Why am I writing about this on Veterans Day?  It's because I hope all of our young people know that none of this would be possible if not for veterans.  For more than two hundred years, when other nations wanted to take these privileges away from us, they went to battle for us.  They put their lives on the line, so that you and I can celebrate our freedom.  We can work where we want to work, go to school where we want to go to school, worship at the church of our choice, and choose the food and clothing we want to buy.

People in many countries don’t have those choices.  But thanks to our veterans, and those who have gone before them, we live in a free country: the greatest in the world.  All these freedoms we enjoy could have been taken away from us, so many times. They didn't come easily. 

War is not neat, pretty or glamorous.  Nobody wants to go there.  It’s not a movie, a TV show, or a video game.

There are no days off, no weekends off, no bathroom breaks, no cable TV, no smartphones, no air conditioning, and no vacations.

The men and women we honor this week have been to places we don’t want to go, and they’ve seen things we don’t want to see.

It’s easy to say, “Thank you for your service,” and I’m glad we do that.  And I’m glad that every now and then we pick up their lunch, or give them a discount.

But there’s really no way we can re-pay them. 

Some of us feel like we were born into this great fortune.  But it didn’t just happen, and it doesn’t just stay in place. Someone has to defend it, when others want to take it away. 

They can’t do it from home, their back yard, or their front porch.  They’ve had to leave their families, and their homes.

When you read about the number of lives that were lost defending our nation, you’ll see some big numbers, into the thousands.

Thankfully, we are able to honor surviving veterans. They’re our moms and dads, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.

Think about this.  Do you know how your family worries about you, when they don’t know where you are for a few hours?  Our veterans couldn’t make a quick phone call, or send an email, or a text, saying “Mom, I’m fine.” In many cases, they couldn’t tell Mom where they were.  It was classified information.

I hope when you think of Veterans Day, and other observances that honor our military men and women, past and present, that you will look at it as more than an hour out of class, or a holiday picnic at the lake.

Take some time to study why we’re here, how we got here, and how we’re able to live freely. Take time to thank those who sacrificed so you could attend great schools, choose where you attend college, and choose the career that you want, and not what the government forces you to do.

When I was young, there were still some elderly folks alive who had served in World War I.  My parents’ generation served in World War II, and thankfully, we still have some of those veterans who we can thank in person.

We have many more who have defended us in Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas that posed a threat to our way of life, then and now.

The next time you read a book, or watch a movie that depicts our heroes, remember this.  We have real people in our own communities, our own families, who have been there, and done that.  They all did so, in the hope that their children, and grandchildren wouldn’t have to go there.  For that and so much more, we say thank you.

When you get a chance to honor a veteran with a handshake, a hug, or a salute, please do so.  Brave men and women are still protecting us in frightening, faraway places.  Their mommas and daddies, grandparents, wives, husbands and kids pray each day for their safety.  I hope you'll do that too. 

Learn everything you can in history class, in the library or online, about what our veterans have done, and are still doing, so you can enjoy the life you're living today.

(David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,,” available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com.  You may contact him at radiotv2020@yahoo.com, or 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405)

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