Our Opinion: Help carry the message on Memorial Day

We must do a better job communicating to young people the importance of honoring our nation and its military veterans.

We share that sentiment with two officials of veterans organizations. They are Frank Prosser, department adjutant of the Missouri American Legion — which represents 280 posts and 54,000 members — and Tom Ward, commander of Post 1003, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In advance of the Memorial Day holiday, observed Monday, Prosser and Ward agreed with our observation that Memorial Day events tend to attract older veterans.

“We older veterans can do a better job passing on the values our fathers instilled in us,” Prosser said. “Those values include flag etiquette, removing your hat and placing your hand over your heart when a flag goes by during a parade. We all have a role to play in passing those things along.”

Ward said he sees few veterans between ages 20-40 at Memorial Day events. Perhaps younger veterans are busy raising families and building careers, he speculated. But, he added, “we need to get newer veterans more active and more involved.”

Veterans’ associations have much to offer. The American Legion, for example, provides temporary assistance — from babysitting to fixing furnaces — to veterans’ families through its Troop Support (TS2) program. It also offers a Heroes to Hometown program to aid disabled veterans by building access ramps for homes and helping with job searches.

In addition, in an effort to attract younger veterans, it is outfitting its posts with Wi-Fi and building its motorcycle organization, the American Legion Riders.

We do not intend to confuse Veterans Day, observed in November, with Memorial Day, which honors the military veterans who now are deceased.

But military veterans, through their service, have a unique understanding of the sacrifices — including the ultimate sacrifice — made by their peers.

Let us take time this Memorial Day to honor the people throughout history who helped preserve the freedoms we continue to enjoy today.

When we honor them, we also honor all military veterans and help them carry a message of honor, service and commitment to the next generation.

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