Editorial: Take time today to thank a hero

Area residents, visitors and veterans alike will have an opportunity today to honor the men and women of the military ­- current and former.

The Northern Arizona VA Health Care System serves more than 21,000 veterans in Northern Arizona daily, and on Veterans Day the Prescott VA plays host to a parade to honor all veterans.

These are men and women who have sacrificed their physical and mental health to protect and defend our great country.

According to a letter to the editor from the VA from 2004, "Veterans enrich our lives. They are a humble group who did not seek personal glory. They did a tough job in extreme conditions and lived to tell their stories. They are patriots one and all."

Those words are as accurate today as they were when we received the letter.

Veterans Day, which began in 1919 as "Armistice Day," signifies the end of World War I -­ for which major hostilities formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. It became a legal holiday in 1938 and "Veterans Day" to honor all veterans in 1954. It is dedicated to the cause of world peace.

"Veteran" comes from originally meaning a person of long experience or skill. It represented former, old soldiers who fought for the independence of our country. Over time we have come to use the term to describe any former member of the armed forces or a person who had served in the military.

Our country's veterans are all of those things. Now, however, many also are young men or women back from service in the Middle East.

Seek out a veteran, young or old, today, Nov. 11, or any day ­ and strike up a conversation with them and thank them for their service to our nation. You will walk away knowing that you met a true hero.