Veterans. They walk among us.

Americans have a short attention span about patriotic themes. It is popular to think about them on certain days such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day, sometimes on Armed Forces Day and a few other days during the year, but then attention shifts to other things.

Pearl Harbor Day mostly went unnoticed. The events of 9/11 have mostly faded from our minds except when the media reminds us for a few days. "Memorial" has changed from its original meaning.

I'm a flag waver and proud of it. I'm also a veteran and proud of my service. But I'm also very proud of all our veterans from all our war encounters.

As a very young man back in the 1930s, I had the privilege of knowing

veterans from the "un-Civil" War, the Spanish American War and World

War I. WWII veterans were brought close to home as my brothers and a

sister served along with many of my friends. Family member blue stars

dotted almost every home in our neighborhood along with far too many

gold stars.

Korea, Viet Nam, the Gulf and the mess that is still going on over

there is adding to the number of veterans around us.

What is exciting to me is the number of veterans who are still

serving our country, even though they hung up their uniforms and took on

the form of civilians. Talk to them about the time they served and you

will still see pride and a sense of duty to the American Way.

In fact, they are serving in capacities that encourage honor and

pride in America.

There are those who traded in their uniforms for the classrooms. They

may even have a tougher battlefield now than when they were on active

duty, trying to instill a loyalty to God and country, which was part of

their oath when they served.

We have a number of veterans working in the medical field helping to

keep America strong by keeping people healthy.

The rolls of police and sheriff's departments list veterans serving

our community by valiant efforts to enforce the law for the protection

of the innocent.

Pelican Bay State Prison has veterans serving to help maintain order

among the lawless in their care.

There are a number of Native Americans also who have served our


And the list of retired persons swells this list to account for a

very large number of veterans that we walk among. They don't wear their

medals or "I was there" ribbons, but within their hearts is the pride of

having served this great nation, for which we owe a great debt of


But that is only a partial list of veterans that we walk among. They

are in retail, mechanics and many other fields that contribute to our

safety, welfare and health.

Most of these veterans don't wear a label identifying themselves, but

quite often you will see in their actions the discipline and patriotism

in little actions and words that show that they have been there and

done that.

Always keep in mind that it wasn't the politicians, the professors,

the preachers who made America what it is, it was the men and women who

went into harm's way to keep and protect all of us.

And to you veterans out there, be a part of veterans' activities and

help influence others to your pride in America.

Veterans, I would like to hear your stories to inspire others. I'd

also like to hear about veterans' services and activities on the North

Coast, for purposes of a possible monthly column in the Triplicate.

You can e-mail me at or contact the Triplicate.

Ed Fleshman is the local VFW chaplain.