For many of us, Veterans Day is more than just another holiday. It’s a day of honor and recognition of those who have taken that solemn oath to defend our country against all enemies.

This past Saturday Bridge City and Orangefield families of active duty personnel received certificates and Blue Star Banners to display in their windows. The banners contain a star for each family member serving in the military. The event, sponsored by Bridge City American Legion Post 250, reminded many the true price for freedom and the pride families show, knowing that their loved ones are serving to protect our way of life at home.

I’m proud to see that the men and women in the Armed Forces today are respected for their commitment. Our service members need our respect and encouragement in times such as this. With two wars abroad, service members now mourn the loss of their own by the hand of one of their own. But this time the loss was not in combat but on an American Army Post in Texas. My heart goes out to all service members and their families at this time, particularly those at Fort Hood and those in combat areas. We must never forget the sacrifices these people and their families make.

The Blue Star Banner program began when World War I Army Capt. Robert L. Queissner, of the 5th Ohio Infantry, designed the Blue Star Banner in 1917. The Banner quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in service. Each Blue Star on a Banner represents one family member serving. The Banner can have up to five stars, representing five family members serving.

In the wake of Hurricane Ike, the local program came to a halt. But Post 250 has resurrected the program to honor those families in Bridge City and Orangefield. Each family member received a banner and a certificate. But what I believe was more important, American Legion members personally thanked all the family members for their sacrifices. I was honored to thank each member as Post 250 commander Mike Reilly, with other post members, presented the banners and certificates.

Families display the banners in the front windows of their homes to show their pride in their loved ones. The Banner is also designed to remind others that preserving America’s freedom demands much.

I can remember days in the 1960s and early 1970s when military people were ridiculed and scorned when they returned home while many Americans protested the Vietnam War. The strong protest against the war instigated unfair and harsh treatment to the returning service people.

Fortunately, I didn’t experience that behavior when I returned home to Orange County during the Vietnam era. But in many other areas of the nation, service members were harassed and ridiculed. Those days have gone, and I’m glad that our military people get the respect and honor they deserve.

Military people normally don’t dwell on the politics of a decision by their commander-in-chief, the president of the United States. They only dwell on staying alive and doing their jobs – protecting our freedom and winning whatever battle they are fighting. Military people are trained to take orders and carry them forward. They are not under a totally democratic society as that which they fight for. In fact, their Code of Conduct is quite different from whatever ethics we practice in our civilian careers, and even their laws fall under a different code – The Uniform Code of Military Justice, which provides for a felony Courtmartial if they fail to go to work. The system is different for military people, but their ideals are strong.

Unfortunately, the cost of freedom is high. And Americans are willing to pay that price. But let us all pray also that our world might see a day when the last war is won to secure our freedom. Let us all pray for the day that terrorism and retaliation are obsolete.

About Jerry Childress

Jerry Childress is the Orange County Veterans Service Officer and former Editor for The Record Newspapers.