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Editorial: Veteran’s Day a time to say thank you

Just say thank you for your service.
John Caudle’s advice on this page is spot on, although we should go a bit farther.
A World War II veteran, Caudle urges us all to say thank you to a veteran – or veterans – next Thursday, Veteran’s Day. I agree, although those thank you’s should come every day, not just on a day when everyone is saying it.
No matter your political persuasion, no matter your opinions of military machines or wars, no matter your philosophy on violence, our men and women who voluntarily join the Armed Services deserve our thanks. That goes double for those past war veterans, who agreed to go and fight for us when called upon by their country.
It’s a trait we could all use.
John Caudle truly exemplifies what it means to be a member of the Greatest Generation, those World War II veterans who served their country in dangerous, far-away lands, and then came home and made their communities a better place to live for everyone. And believe it or not, John Caudle is still doing that. Just read his letter.
Davie County was different back in the 1940s when World War II was happening. There were many without electricity, many without cars. Factory jobs weren’t prevalent yet, and many families raised and grew their own food.
Imagine the anxiety boys such as Caudle must have experienced when they were thrust into the middle of a bloody and deadly war.
He described to Kyle Swicegood his first 14-hour mission as a tail gunner on a B-29. Bullets flew by from the Japanese planes. There he was, a long way from the cornfields of Farmington, over waters that went on forever, and people were trying to kill him.
Caudle persevered.
Around his neck, he wore a locket. Inside was a photo of his wife, Rose. He opened that locket often, probably giving him the will to carry on and do his best. And think about Rose back home. We can’t imagine the fears she must have gone through with her love in danger so far away. She, too, is a member of the Greatest Generation and deserves just as much recognition. The families of all of our war heroes deserve that same respect. Sometimes it is much easier to face danger than to know a loved one is facing danger and there is nothing you can do.
But she persevered.
They are two true heroes, and should be celebrated as such. After his return from war, the Caudles focused on providing for their family, and building their community. They still do.
While our war heroes are easy to thank, we should also say thank you to anyone who has ever served in the military. Nowadays, they are volunteers. Think about that. Yes, the military can provide a good career. And while we may not have been in a war at the time of their enlistment, a war with all hands on deck could happen at any time. Such sacrifice deserves a thank you from the rest of us. Actually, it deserves much more. If you see a veteran out and about, go a step farther and buy them a cup of coffee, a meal, a beer, whatever is appropriate at the time.
Back to Kyle Swicegood.
Kyle, like many of us, never served in the military. He never faced the horrors of war up close. But he respects and admires those who did.
Swicegood was an escort for Caudle when the veteran went on a Flight of Honor to Washington, D.C. to view the World War II memorial. Swicegood interviewed World War II veterans from Davie County, putting those interviews on video for future generations to see. He helps them tell their stories in a laid-back, easy to watch or read style.
People like Kyle Swicegood deserve our thanks, as well. Apparently, members of that Greatest Generation did a pretty good job of raising the next generation of country- and community-minded individuals.
There is hope for us, after all.
– Mike Barnhardt