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Editorial: Remember the Sacrifice On This Veterans Day

It’s more than a weekday without mail service or the start of a three-day weekend.

Much more.

Today is Veterans Day, the national holiday set aside to commemorate the temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”

More than 106,000 Americans died in World War I. More than 400,000 in WWII. The Korean conflict took more than 36,000 American servicemen and servicewomen. Vietnam, more than 58,000. The Gulf War, more than 350. Afghanistan/Pakistan, more than 1,800. Iraqi Freedom, more than 4,400.

Today we should remember more than the numbers — and not just of those who died but of the countless wounded. Each one signifies an American who willingly made the ultimate sacrifice for his or her country.

Today has special meaning for New Mexico, which is host to four vibrant military bases.

New Mexico has more Medals of Honor awarded per capita than any other state, recorded the highest per-capita casualty rates in WWII, paid a heavy toll in the Bataan Death March and to date has lost 76 men and women in the Global War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Department of Veterans Affairs points out that “November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of ‘the war to end all wars.’ ” This year the commemoration falls on 11/11/11, and “it will be another 100 years — the year 2111 — before the traditional 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month ceremony falls on the 11th year of a century.”

It is a harsh reality with a high price that the end of WWI did not in fact end all wars. It is important to remember the sacrifices made then and since.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.