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Wed, Aug. 21

VA urges veterans to wear medals as show of patriotic pride

Special to the Review

General George Washington had it right when he turned over the victorious Continental Army and said: "This new nation owes these men who procured our freedom a debt of gratitude."

Our job at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is to fulfill that debt of gratitude and we do it well. But, there is even more we can do as Americans, and that is to honor and thank our veterans and encourage them to be openly proud of their service, sacrifice and accomplishment.

In that spirit of gratefulness, VA has launched its Veterans Pride initiative where we are asking American veterans to proudly wear their military medals and decorations on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2006.

We hope they will also wear them on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, and that it will become a tradition in America.

Our goal is to inspire the American people to recognize and honor the military service of their fellow citizens, and to engender a greater sense of pride and satisfaction on the part of the veterans for what they did for our country.

We are urging all veterans to pin on their military medals and ribbons on Veterans Day, especially when participating in festivities and parades, but also in just going about their regular activities of that day.

The Veterans Pride initiative shines a bright light on millions of our fellow citizens who answered the needs of our nation both in peace and in war. Each veteran's medals tell a story about their service. This initiative will also help stimulate interest in our veterans' service and sacrifice on the part of their families, neighbors, colleagues and fellow community citizens. We hope to bring our veterans' stories home to all Americans this Veterans Day.

The Department of Veterans Affairs "Veterans Pride" campaign Web site,, describes the program and offers important information and guidance about how veterans can be informed of the medals they received and how they can obtain medals earned during their military service.

To America's veterans I say, wear your medals over your heart with pride this Veterans Day and let your fellow citizens know that you served.

Jim Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, served eight years on active duty as a paratrooper and Ranger-qualified Army officer, then 22 years in the Army Reserve, retiring with the rank of colonel. While serving in combat in Vietnam, he earned the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and two Air Medals.

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