Salute veterans for a job well done

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Two weeks ago we gently laid to rest another gallant American soldier.

He was Army Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander Jr. of Clanton, who was seriously wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq and later died in recovery. He was the 2000th casualty of the war in Iraq. It is a sad fact of tragic necessity.

Alexander loved the military. He served nine tours of duty in the Middle East. He was a father, a soldier and an honorable American. He did his duty serving his country, and we will always benefit from his sacrifice.

Staff Sgt. Alexander’s story is the story of America. We exist because brave men and women sacrifice their lives. For more than 200 years, men and women have willingly paid the ultimate price for our freedom. From Bunker Hill to Baghdad, they have manned the long line of defense that enables us to sleep comfortably at night.

Most soldiers today are about 19 years old. They are just out of high school, away from home for the first time, used to pizza and iPods, and still fighting acne. Yet they serve, suffer and sacrifice on hundreds of foreign assignments in order that war and bloodshed never come to our shores. As a result, they earn a title that follows them for the rest of their lives. They become &8220;veterans&8221; and they are due all the respect and honor that goes with the title.

On Nov. 11 we will celebrate Veterans Day. There will be programs and parades all across America. Birmingham holds one of the largest Veterans Parades in the country. Yet that effort is still painfully short of what they are due. Veterans deserve attention for at least the whole month.

So let us do our part in scores of small ways throughout the whole state to insure that the memory of soldiers like Staff Sgt. Alexander of Clanton are not lost in the busy calendars of the holidays. Let us celebrate our true national heroes in church services, sporting events, school assemblies, newspaper articles and plenty of yellow ribbons. And let us remember the words of Abraham Lincoln when he said, &8220;Let us here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom; and government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.&8221;

To all our veterans I give a snap salute and a handshake of thanks and well done