By The Greater Falls Church Veterans Council
Our soldiers are protectors of our democracy. But Americans honor our veterans in different ways. Ask yourself, when did you last attend a Veterans Day or Memorial Day service? Several times in recent years, at ceremonies held in Falls Church where attendance is usually above 100 persons, those attending were asked how many are veterans or members of their immediate family? Yep, all responded “YES.” Rarely can you find the non-veteran citizen who takes the time to attend ceremonies meant to honor those who gave their lives or now live their lives with the disabilities caused defending the Constitution.
Even if you do not attend a ceremony, that does not mean you do not honor the service of our troops. You honor the veteran every time they are given special treatment or opportunities. Examples partially include such benefits as health care, education, home mortgage, offsetting tax burdens, and burial. Veterans, indeed, hold a special place in our hearts for their sacrifices. They thank you for honoring them.
Veterans also remember their fellow troopers. Families who have lost a loved one in a war zone are invited to an “Honor Roll” ceremony where the name of the fallen trooper is added to the list of others. Plaques bearing the name of a fallen hero from Falls Church can be found at the entrance of the Parks and Recreation building, across from the Veterans Memorial.
Our Falls Church Veteran supports the efforts of the National League of POW/MIA Families, which locates its national headquarters in Falls Church. Working with several government agencies, this organization is directly responsible for the repatriation of many American prisoners of war and thousands of missing are now returned to their family.
Falls Church veterans also receive honors and support from groups like the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Falls Church Concert Band, the US Army Band, the US Marine Band, the Northern Virginia WWII Veterans, Veterans Memorial Committee and the City of Falls Church Recreation and Parks Division.
In 2004, Falls Church members of The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Catholic War Veterans, Korean War Veterans, and the Coalition of the Republic of Vietnam, met to form the Greater Falls Church Veterans Council.
Beyond assisting with the ceremonies for Veterans Day and Memorial Day, the Council also provides manpower and economic assistance to celebrate Flag Day, Independence Day, Patriots Day and Constitution Day. Falls Church veterans, families, and friends also enjoy the annual Picnic at Cherry Hill Park held the Sunday before Columbus Day. Members of the community and veterans are presented with awards for their support.
If you have ever watched the annual Falls Church parade on Memorial Day, the city always presents and honors our veterans to lead the march through our city streets. You may have seen the stunning photos presented often by the Falls Church News-Press.
Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day, the ending of World War I. Ceremonies are regularly held throughout the world on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour. The sacrifices made by millions of Americans in that war and subsequent wars helped countries around the world enjoy freedom today. Quite a legacy for America.
Some veterans have not experienced combat, but they share a bond with those who have. All have been willing to die for America if called upon. All were subjected to the military justice system which requires strict professionalism and obedience. All have pledged loyalty to the US Constitution. When you take a moment to thank and honor a veteran, you are offering your friendship and support for their courage and commitment on behalf of America.
Just think of it. For the veteran, America is important enough to endure long separations from their family. Perhaps they miss the birth of a child. Of course, there is always the danger from cold weather or hot jungles or deserts where they might lose a limb or their life.
We also cannot forget the sacrifices made by the military spouse who may endure an interruption of their career, deal with frequent address changes, and be required to assume all parental responsibility. Be sure to thank them, too.
The title “veteran” can be claimed by fewer than 10 percent of Americans. Less than one-half of one percent of our population currently serves. It is important that all Americans help improve the lives of those who make these sacrifices.
We are the greatest nation on earth. We enjoy the freedom and security that our veterans give us. The price paid by the veteran is far greater than any price we pay to support the quality of life for our veteran and their family. We must remember them. We must appreciate them.
Call 571-251-1453 if you would like to join one of the Falls Church veteran organizations or to contribute your time or money to support the programs established by our veterans.
This piece was written collaboratively by three members of the Greater Falls Church Veterans Council. For more information about the organization, visit www.gfcvcouncil.homestead.com