Bill Harding: Respect veterans and your right to vote

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It's two days after the general election. I hope you have done your duty and voted. I always vote in respect for a close friend who died in Vietnam.

More than 429,000 servicemen and women have lost their lives on the battlefield since the Spanish-American War (1898-1902) to protect your right to vote.

Regardless of party affiliation, I hope that you researched the issues and voted according to your conscience. I know we're all tired of the negative attack ads and wish the same effort expended to smear the opponent went into addressing the issues, and passing the laws or regulations that would promote a better life for our citizens, whether security, prescription drugs, social security, immigration issues, etc. There needs to be to be a partisan "American" focus on these major issues, not the current bipartisan split with finger pointing and name calling. Just imagine what the monies spent for these attack ads could, and should, have done for the betterment of our citizens and the social outreach programs across our nation.

Veterans Day observances start Friday at the middle school and high school. Look at the Datebook items on page 4 of this newspaper. All veterans -- please wear your medals -- and the public are encouraged to attend. I want to thank all who are promoting and participating.

Frequent questions

Q. What is the correct spelling of Veterans Day?

A. There are usually three variations:

a. Veterans Day

b. Veteran's Day

c. Veterans' Day

The correct choice is a. Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe, but does include an "s" because it is not a day that belongs to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans. Veterans Day is always observed officially on Nov. 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. However, when it falls on a weekday, many communities celebrate on the weekend before or after Nov. 11, so more people can participate. That is the reason the local veterans service organizations are holding their observances on Friday to include older school-age children in this ceremony.

Q. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

A. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is the day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. Communities also recognize those who have served honorably and are buried in their cemeteries.

Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all those who have served honorably in the military -- in wartime or peacetime. Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated and to underscore that all those who have served -- not only those who have died -- have sacrificed and done their duty.

Q. Why are red poppies worn on Veterans Day, and where can I obtain them?

A. The wearing of poppies in honor of America's war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day. However veteran service organizations use the donations from Buddy Poppy drives to assist with local veteran, veterans' widow and orphan children projects. It is a relief fundraiser that can be used to assist only needy veteran families. Watch for local poppy displays.

Fortification Bridge

How many of us travel over the bridge on Fortification Creek next to the City Park and the VFW building? It's right where the one-way splits approaching Craig from the east.

How many of us have stopped and read the plaque on the eastern end? How many of us know this bridge was dedicated to the memory of Capt. Mark Giles Danielson who was shot down over the Vietnam/Laos border on June 18, 1972, and was at the center of a POW/MIA controversy until partial remains on the crew members were repatriated and were interned as commingled remains as a group burial in Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 17, 1994. Danielson was part of the 15-man crew aboard an AC-130A Spectre gunship of the 16th Special Ops Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. The AC-130 left Ubon RTAFB for a mission along the Vietnam/Laos border and was hit by a SA-7 surface-to-air missile. The aircraft crashed in flames but three crewmembers escaped the crash and were rescued by search and rescue forces on June 19. That team determined no others could have survived the crash, and the remaining 12 were classified as Killed in Action. Danielson, the electronic warfare officer, was among those 12. However, on Dec. 30, 1972, photographs of an "unidentified American POW" appeared in the Peking Hsinahu newspaper. The Danielson family immediately identified this POW as Mark. That began the 22-year controversy that the U.S. government considers closed with the burial of the remains, but families of the aircrew still have not.

There are several Internet links to this story, which can be examined if you desire. Just plug "Capt. M.G. Danielson" into your favorite search engine.

Operation Recognition efforts will continue through this office. All veterans who left school to serve our nation in times of need -- World War II, Korea or Vietnam -- and are over 60 years of age, are eligible for the program "Operation Recognition" to receive their high school diploma. I would like to have more of these vets cross the stage next May with our local high school seniors. If you think you are eligible, contact me.

For more

For information on these programs or other veterans benefits, call or stop in the Moffat County VSO office at 480 Barclay St., west of the Bank of Colorado parking lot. Call 824-3246, fax (970) 824-7108, or e-mail veterans@moffatcounty.net. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Other times can be arranged by appointment.

Take a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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