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By Gina Channell Wilcox

Honor those who have served and those currently serving

Uploaded: Nov 5, 2013

When I was in elementary school, one assignment I could always expect is the essay on "What my country means to me" or something along those lines, usually in conjunction with a contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion.

This tradition has not changed, and I was delighted and proud that in her essay on "What is Patriotism?" my 13-year-old wrote that the highest form of patriotism is serving in the military, and being willing to give up everything, even life.

I grew up in a very different world – the 1970s – when, I am disappointed to say, military personnel and veterans were not only not appreciated, but were sometimes verbally abused. I didn't know this when I was writing my essays; my parents sheltered me from this harsh and pathetic reality. My father, a Marine, is a Vietnam Vet. He did three tours in the jungles of Vietnam with scorpions, snakes and snipers – and let's not forget the really nasty booby traps. He didn't come back to fanfare.

It is heartening to see this attitude has changed, and people - including children - are learning to respect those who put themselves in danger and suffered sacrifice for the rest of us. And now there are campaigns locally and nationwide to support our those who have served and those currently serving. Locally we have Sentinels of Freedom, which supports wounded veterans, Pleasanton Military Families, and Warriors Watch Ride, to name just a few.

Personally, after learning about what Vietnam vets endured, I will walk up, say "thank you" and shake the hands of total strangers who are in uniform or wearing something that identifies them as veterans. I bought my dad a hat that says "Vietnam Veteran" and I can only hope someone someday will walk up to him, say "thank you" and shake his hand.

I was disappointed, though, to hear that after this year Pleasanton's Veterans Day Parade will be the only parade honoring veterans in the Bay Area. San Jose will have its final Veterans Day parade this weekend. Does anyone know if there will be parades other than Pleasanton's in 2014?

Speaking of supporting current troops, there is currently a post on Facebook encouraging people to send holiday cards to our troops overseas. The post says "When filling out Christmas cards, take a card and send it to: Holiday Mail for Heroes, PO Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456. Pass this on and think of how many cards these wonderful people who have sacrificed so much would get. Please share. It's the least we can do to show our love and support. Deadline is Dec. 6." I will send at least one card, maybe two or three.

Also, I would like to honor some very special veterans in my life: My father, James Channell; my uncle, Roger Channell; my cousin, Dallas Channell Muenchrath; and Pleasanton Weekly Editor Jeb Bing.

Now it's your turn. Who are the special veterans in your life?