Our Voice: Spend part of Veterans Day learning the stories our veterans' lives tell

Each life has a story. It's why people read obituaries of people they don't know. It's why celebrity gossip grabs our attention.

It's why we encourage you to take some time to enjoy the Veterans Day insert in your Tri-City Herald today. See what we mean.

This 16-page special issue honors veterans living and deceased, even those currently serving.

It tells a small part of their story, however briefly.

Also in today's paper is a special photo spread by award-winning Herald photographer Kai-Huei Yau. It includes vignettes and portraits. You know the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

Today's paper also has a feature story on a recent Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

The point is: Veterans are not just some distant or elusive symbol. They are our friends and parents and children. Each of these men and women -- and thousands more -- has ties to the Mid-Columbia.

Many schools have Veterans Day assemblies so kids can meet and listen to local veterans. It's meant to honor the vet, but it also goes a long way toward instilling respect and understanding in the student.

There are lots of other ways to honor a veteran this weekend. You can find a list of those Mid-Columbia activities online at bit.ly/vetevents.

In years past, we have used the space on this page to encourage people to thank a vet. And people actually do it. We know because it's not unusual to get a handful of Thankful Thursday letters expressing gratitude to our veterans and from veterans who are the recipients of someone thanking them.

This year we also are thinking about how someone's life stories can get lost. In the case of a veteran, some of those who served don't want to talk about their time in the military. Or maybe we don't listen the way we should.

And not all stories have a happy ending. But each life has a story -- and a lesson.

It's extremely likely that you have a veteran in your family tree or living on your block. And it's those stories we are interested in hearing -- and remembering.

So your assignment this year is to 1) thank a vet and 2) in some way help to preserve their stories. It can be a note on your Facebook page, a video interview, it can be a journal entry or a letter.

Look at today's insert for inspiration.

And, to the vets, thank you. We may not fully understand your experience, but we appreciate your service.