As a nation gives thanks to its veterans, the guest speaker at a ceremony in Hagerstown Friday suggested that appreciation flows both ways.
Charles D. Stimson said Veterans Day also is a chance for veterans to express how much they appreciate the support of their fellow Americans.
"Thank you for letting us serve this noble country," Stimson told a crowd gathered outside the Washington County Courthouse for a ceremony held by Morris Frock Unit 42 of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Families and spouses especially deserve praise, Stimson said.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when he told his wife he was being called up, she replied, "Do your duty," said Stimson, a third-generation Navy veteran.
Stimson, a senior legal fellow for The Heritage Foundation's Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, previously served as a deputy assistant defense secretary for detainee affairs, according to a biography posted on The Heritage Foundation's website.
Stimson said the United States is a nation of high ideals.
"We know that we serve because we believe, as our fathers did, in America's divine providence and the justice of her cause," he said. "The valiant sacrifices of our brothers and sisters in wars past, tragic as they were, were worth it because they believed what we believe — that without a strong and prosperous America, the world would be a more dangerous place, and America would be less free.
"So, we serve."
As wind whipped the flags outside the courthouse, representatives of veterans organization and government agencies placed wreaths.
A Marine Corps League color guard stood by, as an orchestra from the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts played patriotic music.
City Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II told the crowd that it's necessary to draw children into the remembrance tradition, so it will live on in future generations.
"They have to understand that those who came before them are the ones who've fought and died to give them the freedoms that they so rightly use today," Bruchey said.
Marilyn Hembrock, the president of Unit 42, said a small percentage of the nation protects the rest.
"The 1 percent takes care of the 99," she said.
This Veterans Day had an somber footnote, said Dorothy Smith, Unit 42's chaplain: Friday was when Larry Martin, the president of Morris Frock Post 42's Last Man's Club of World War II, was buried.