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Veterans, those who fought in war and those who were ready to — they are this country’s spine.

There are more than 21 million in our country. Veterans are coming home from Afghanistan every day, but we’re also losing our World War II, Korean War and Vietnam vets at a rapid rate. May they never leave our hearts and minds.

It is a joy to live in a patriotic place such as Jefferson County. We have a wonderful, inspirational statue adorning our city hall honoring a brave, local young man, Thomas Tucker, killed in Iraq. Off the top of my head, I can think of decorated war heroes raised in Madras, Culver and Warm Springs. May we honor their service with our thoughts Monday, and every day.

But on Monday, for sure, we honor every man and woman who bravely put their neck on the line to serve our country. They are all heroes, quiet heroes nearly one and all, but heroes.

Thanks, vets. You collectively protected our nation, and throughout the decades since the Revolutionary War, you’ve made our nation.

Our country’s veterans have inspired powerful emotion among the thankful, elicted great insight to the soul and spirit of those who endure war, and inspired heartfelt appreciation. In honor of Veterans Day next Monday, I’d like to share some of these quotes — some famous, some not so famous.

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Joseph Campbell

“It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.” Dick Cheney

“Nurture your minds with great thoughts, to believe in the heroic makes heroes.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Freedom is never free.” Anonymous source

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” Elmer Davis

“I believe it is the nature of people to be heroes, given the chance.” James A. Autry

“I think there is one higher office than president and I would call that patriot.” Gary Hart

“When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?” George Canning

“Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves.” Carol Lynn Pearson

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” C.K. Chesterton

“Without heroes, we are all plain people, and don’t know how far we can go.” Bernard Malamud

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” Maya Angelou

“Lord, bid war’s trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

“The most persistent sound which reverberates through man’s history is the beating of war drums.” Arthur Koestler

“Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.” Michel de Montaigne

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” Jose Narosky

Enjoy your special, well deserved day, veterans.

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