Take time today to honor our armed forces veterans

Today, we honor the men and women who have served and are now serving in our armed forces. A brief pause in our busy lives is the very least we can do in return for the sacrifice they and their families have made for us.

Nov. 11 long has been set aside to pay tribute to those who have fought and died for this country. The date marks the end of fighting in World War I, the "war to end all wars."

Congress officially recognized it with a resolution passed in 1926. That resolution states in part, " ... it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations."

In 1938, Nov. 11 was made a federal holiday, " a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace," according to the Office of Veterans Affairs history of the holiday.

That common theme of peace in honoring those who serve in wartime might seem at first contradictory. But what better way to express our gratitude than to work for peace, to strive to keep our military forces out of harm's way, even while recognizing they stand ready to fight when called upon.

President Barack Obama, in his Veterans Day proclamation this year, honors another aspect of military service that we in Beaufort County long have benefited from -- their community service after their military service has ended. That service has extended to local government, education and community groups, all made richer by the invaluable experience and leadership skills they bring to the table.

The presidential proclamation notes: "Long after leaving the uniform behind, many veterans continue to serve our country as public servants and mentors, parents and community leaders. They have added proud chapters to the story of America, not only on the battlefield, but also in communities from coast to coast. They have built and shaped our nation, and it is our solemn promise to support our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen as they return to their homes and families."

Opportunities abound locally to mark the holiday. Beaufort hosts a parade that begins at 9:30 a.m. on Rodgers Street and ends at Beaufort National Cemetery on Boundary Street, where a Veterans Day ceremony begins at 11 a.m.

In southern Beaufort County, the Military Veterans Coalition of Hilton Head Island and the Town of Hilton Head Island host a Veterans Day observance at 10:30 a.m. at the veterans memorial in Shelter Cove Community Park. The coalition represents the three veterans organizations on the island -- the Navy League of the United States, the Military Officers Association of America and American Legion Post 185.

In Sun City Hilton Head, the Sun City Veterans Association and the community will host a ceremony at Pinckney Hall.

If you can't attend any of these events, please take a moment to remember our veterans and say thank you to those you know. And look for ways throughout the year to support them and their families here at home.