2019 Veterans Day: Honoring all who have served our country

By William H. Baker

Contributing Writer

For many of us, World War II may seem like a part of “ancient history.” Yet, there are 200 military veterans of that war living here in the tri-state area in 2019. We should remember them and their service in uniform 75 years ago.

With Veterans Day just ahead, this weekend offers a great opportunity to remember not only World War II veterans but all who have served in the decades since the 1940s.

There are approximately 6,000 veterans living in the four counties surrounding the Cumberland Gap: Bell, Claiborne, Harlan and Lee.

Their importance to us and to the USA should be emphasized, and the individuals should know how much their families, friends and neighbors value their sacrifices and their patriotism.

Annual events such as the Veterans Program sponsored by the First State Bank of the Southeast serve to remind them and all of us that they are appreciated. That program will be on Tuesday this year, November 12, at the Middlesboro Community Center, with registration and reception at 4:30 p.m. and dinner at 5 p.m.

Churches in the tri-state will be recognizing veterans in their congregations on Sunday. And, commercial recognition on Monday, a federal holiday, include complimentary meals from a Veterans Day menu at Sagebrush Steakhouse, special dessert offering at Cracker Barrel, and numerous discounts and special recognition from other businesses.

Whether in uniform now or at any time from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East or other conflicts, the men and women who have served are deserving of public recognition of their service.

Nationally, they are being recognized with a special ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, a Veterans Day Parade in New York City, and in ceremonies across the nation on Monday.

Of the veterans who live nearby, according to state and federal records, there are approximately 1,430 in Bell County, 1,745 in Claiborne, 1,320 in Harlan, and 1,650 in Lee.

Important numbers for each county. Important people in our neighborhoods. And important to all, especially the younger generation. Important that each generation understand the basic reasons for showing appreciation to all those who have protected our way of life, our freedoms, our country by risking their lives in military service.

William H. Baker is a Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu