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Celebrate veterans’ sacrifices

Veterans Day this year has been heralded by two televised events: The 10-part PBS series on the Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick in September and the almost daily reruns of "M*A*S*H" on at least two channels.

The PBS production provided a thoughtful and serious look at a divisive war, while "M*A*S*H" provided a humorous (and painfully realistic) look at the Army, set in the Korean War but originally produced during the Vietnam War.

I give high marks to the PBS show, but like most veterans, I have quibbles. In addition to the expected, “That’s not me” or “Not my unit,” I’d have given less screen time to the domestic opposition to the war and more to the good and bad of the South Vietnamese forces. Of course, having spent 17 months on a district team, a positive note on rural pacification programs would have been appreciated.

The show "M*A*S*H" does catch the spirit of soldiers at war, portraying humor amidst horror, battling the seemingly unreasonable policies and privilege of people in authority, and being heroic despite a great dislike of the war and being a part of it.

Yes, heroic. The word is overused. We forget that in an earlier era, military service was expected of every male. Although far too many were able to avoid the draft with student exemptions and trumped-up medical conditions, many more grudgingly reported for a legitimate medical exam and basic training. While unrecognized and unappreciated at the time, those years of active service were important in our transition to adulthood.

Veterans and non-veterans alike should, on Veterans Day, reflect on the past, present and future and how we should celebrate the sacrifices others still make for us.

Bruce A. Beardsley, Naples

Thanks for all veterans have done

You are the ones who safeguard our sacred shores.

You fight for freedom, justice and equality. You secure the future of our Lady Liberty, her dreams and her hopes. You protect my home. You walk into battle, chest thrust out with pride, holding the American flag high. As the battle rages, you see your comrades die. As you take injury, as you fight to protect every child in bed, all I do is my homework and sleep till school begins.

I cannot thank you enough for what you have given us. You left your family, your friends, your dreams and your happiness to pick up arms and fight for us, our freedom, our liberty and our sacred right to choose.

This sacrifice I cannot repay. The truth is I don’t know what war is like. I can only imagine what you did for us. You are the lions that keep our pride safe. You set the highest of examples with your bravery, valor and honor. You inspire us to do our best in school. You inspire us to be all that we can be.

The awards you’re given aren’t enough praise for what you did for our country, for what you did for us. You deserve a life free of the fear, loss and anguish that you have suffered.

Just like the eagles that soar over the clouds, you soar over our heads and keep an ever-watching eye on America. You keep our shores safe from the bloodshed, tears and dread that linger just outside our coast.

Thank you for all you do.

Connor Bricco, Naples

Eighth grade, Gulfview Middle School

Honor Flight memorable

I would like to personally thank the Collier County Honor Flight program for another successful mission. Thanks go out to all who were involved, especially all of the veterans who served their country, the escorts who accompanied each veteran, all who were involved in going to Washington, D.C., those who prepared the terminal at Southwest Florida International Airport for the flight's return and the hundreds of well-wishers there to welcome home all of the veterans.

My father, Andrew Sr., an Air Force Korean War veteran, was on the flight. It's a day he'll never forget. 

Thanks also go out to Joel Miller and all of the escorts who assisted each veteran. It's something that I'll never forget either, witnessing the outpouring of support for all who served their country with pride.

Louis S. Herkalo, Naples

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