Veterans living and past deserve our thanks today

When we think of Veterans Day, the image comes to mind of people who gave their lives in the service of their country.

We are grateful to these men and women and to their families. No words adequately express that gratitude. Our "thanks" seems shallow.

But that's a shortcoming of our language. Mere words sometimes don't, or can't, express the emotions of the heart.

Even so, thank you.

We also are grateful today for the 22 million veterans who returned safely from their posts and are part of the fabric of our country.

These neighbors stand behind you in the checkout line. They work in the cubicle next to you. They coach your kid's ball team. Their names appear on your ballot.

They made our nation stronger as members of the Armed Forces, and now they are making our community stronger just being part of us.

November is a good time to remember our veterans. It's the month our hearts reflect on things we're grateful for.

And because of the weather, most people aren't tempted to "celebrate" with a day on the water or a neighborhood barbecue -- although sharing time with friends and family is a gift.

If you're on Facebook, there's a good chance that a handful of your friends are making a post a day about something their grateful for. Before the month is up, most all of them likely will mention their gratitude at living in a free land.

In this community in particular, we're grateful for the support veterans receive. It's one thing to say thanks and it's another thing to show it.

In 2005 the Regional Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Columbia Park in Kennewick. It's impossible to miss when you drive through or past the park, standing as a constant reminder of those who have served.

At 11 a.m. today, Tri-Citians will gather at the memorial to honor our veterans. Retired Adm. Darold Bigger, former chief of the Chaplains Corp for the U.S. Navy and Marines, will give the invocation. Capt. Michael Terrell, commander of the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Reserve, will deliver the keynote address.

This year Kennewick resident Albert Allen erected a memorial to those veterans who he served with and has known.

Since 2011, the Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition has operated a transition house for single male veterans who have been homeless and the group is working on housing for homeless student veterans.

A $107,000 grant will allow Catholic Family & Child Service to help up to 20 veteran families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Benton and Franklin counties.

The parade Saturday in West Richland and school programs throughout the week all honor veterans.

These are all ways to show our appreciation.

Traditionally, and appropriately, there is a moment of silence observed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month (11 a.m. today) for those who have given their lives for our country.

May we suggest a new tradition? In addition to a moment of silence for the dead, how about a word of appreciation for the living? A phone call, or even better, a personal handwritten note, to a living veteran who makes a difference in your life.

"Thanks" doesn't say enough, but please say thanks.