Editorial: Thanks, a million times over

In honoring the dead, we honor the living. That’s saying is never truer than in this nation’s observance of those who have served in the armed services.
This weekend, Memorial Day services around the nation will host parades, bands will play, flags will be placed at gravesites, and the nation as a whole will take a collective moment to remember those who have died in the service of the country.
Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors all those who have served, or are serving, in the armed services whether in peacetime or wartime.
Take a moment this weekend, then, to attend a parade, help spruce up an area cemetery, or thank a veteran in one of several different ways. To do the last, turn to our special Memorial Day pages in today’s issue, in which one article suggests “seven ways to support the troops.”
Among those ways is to write a personal letter to a soldier serving away from home, a small task that those in the know call “one of the most effective and simple ways to offer troops support.”
If you go online and Google something like, “write a letter to American troops,” you’ll come up with various links, including Troops in AfghanistanUSO.org and “a million thanks.org.” Writing tips include some important points, such as to express gratitude not only for serving the country but also for doing so even when it might feel like a thankless job (an important point when the news suggests public support of both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is on the decline); and end on a positive note, leaving the soldier you are writing to with a “hopeful outlook.” Also, it’s good to sign your letter (instead of typewritten) to personalize the message, and include a return address so the soldier can return his thanks or perhaps start a pen-pal relationship.
There are many other ways to support our troops, and to honor those who have died in service of the country, but probably few as effective or meaningful as simply telling them thanks a million times over.

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