Armed Forces Week: Honoring those who serve

Armed Forces Week: Honoring those who serve by Ray G. Smith Gen. George S. Patton once said "? the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one's country."

Military service is the highest form of citizenship. Today's men and women serving in our nation's armed forces are living proof of that.

Our government recognizes their outstanding service by setting aside a week each year in May for Americans to honor the efforts of America's uniformed troops. This year's Armed Forces Week observance starts Saturday, May 12 and concludes on Sunday, May 20.

Though our country has not been involved in any protracted military actions since the Vietnam War, our troops haven't exactly been at peace. There was Grenada, Panama, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and many other engagements or incidents that placed our troops in harm's way.

If you've scanned the national news headlines lately, you are no doubt familiar with some of the recent tragedies involving America's military. Every day, they are engaged in a dangerous occupation that all too many Americans take for granted. As we sleep, they are on patrol in the skies over Iraq, the seas across the globe and the streets of Kosovo. They remain vigilant in our defense.

Through it all, our troops uphold the highest traditions of military service.

In the American Legion, we are proud of our uniformed men and women serving around the world. They are among the best and brightest America has to offer.

And we're equally proud that our organization, the world's largest of its kind, continues to attract these uniformed veterans to fill our ranks, just as generations before them have joined.

Thousands of today's active duty and reserve soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen continue to serve their country and community in their off-duty time, by donning a Legion cap and volunteering at their local posts.

It is true that today's armed forces are different than those of decades past, but our service members' spirit of service remains alive and well.

To each and every member of America's Armed Forces � active duty. Reserves and National Guard � your fellow Americans say, "thank you."

Ray G. Smith is national commander of the 2.8 million-member American Legion, the nation's largest veterans organization.

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