Veterans Day is a great time to show the men and women who serve and have served us all just how much we appreciate their service and their sacrifices. Only a fraction of us will ever wear the uniform of our armed services. I sincerely thank all who have.

Veterans Day parades and other ceremonies are held across the land each year to pay respect to those who serve. It doesn't take much to attend but it means an awful lot to those who participate. As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, let's remember and give thanks to those who will not be surrounded by family for the holidays but instead will be stationed in some far-off foreign place.

When we see someone in uniform or a vet proudly wearing a jacket or hat that displays their branch of service or theater of conflict, we should say," Thank you for your service" and shake their hand. It doesn't take but a few seconds and it confirms for them that their decision to wear the uniform in defense of the homeland was, in fact, the right decision.

We as Americans have many blessings. Among them, the many men and women who put their country and their fellow citizens ahead of themselves – and often their own families – so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do and often take for granted.

Ask a vet and he or she will tell you "freedom isn't free." They know. They have walked the walk and many have paid the price so that the rest of us can be free and safe, and yet never fully understand the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf.

When you are tempted to kneel during the national anthem or burn the American flag in protest, remember the folks who did sacrifice in the spirit of those symbols and instead show them the respect that they deserve. The spirit of America is her sons and daughters who fight to defend her values of liberty, honor, justice, and freedom for all.

Today and every day, thank a veteran for defending that spirit.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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