On Monday morning, outside the Depot, the lineup will take shape. Duluth-area veterans will then march through downtown — like they do every year on the 11th day of the 11th month.
And too few of us will take a moment to notice or commemorate or probably even care. Only a smattering at best will line the streets to applaud, to tip our caps, or to say thank you. Just like every Veterans Day.
How many will “solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom,” as President Dwight D. Eisenhower urged in 1954? That was when Armistice Day, established to mark the end of fighting in World War I, officially became today’s Veterans Day.
Sadly, “The holiday has morphed into a generic holiday,” as author and psychotherapist Ed Tick, who treated hundreds of military veterans during a 40-year career, said in 2014 in the Times Union newspaper of Albany, N.Y. Look no further than the lame attendances for Duluth’s annual parade of military members, past and present, for the evidence.
But it doesn’t have to be generic. The holiday doesn’t have to be just an excuse for another mattress sale. Each of us can see to that. We can remember that our veterans “signed up to give everything, including their life,” as U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, the husband of a veteran, said last week in an exclusive interview with the News Tribune Editorial Board. “When they come back, we have to make sure the services we promised (to) them are there.”
The freshman congressman from Hermantown is in position to do just that, something he fully recognizes and embraces. He said he’s working to win federal funds for a veterans home in Bemidji, to create more job opportunities for veterans, to help veteran-owned businesses win federal contracts, to fill open VA jobs, to protect the federal health care program Tricare, and more.
“Support for our veterans (is) a nonpartisan issue,” Stauber said. “It’s a no-brainer.”
Minnesota’s U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar also is in a position to fight for veterans. In a commentary last week she pushed for the Department of Veterans Affairs to create, at the federal level, a version of Minnesota’s Homeless Veteran Registry. The successful state program connects veterans with the social services they need and has helped more than 1,800 homeless Minnesota veterans find housing.
“This is impressive,” Klobuchar wrote. “The least we can do for those who served our country is to make sure they have a home.”
Minnesota long has been a leader in addressing veteran homelessness, Klobuchar pointed out. The Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry was established in 2014.
“When our servicemembers signed up to serve there wasn’t a waiting line, and when they come home there shouldn’t be a waiting line for the benefits they’ve earned,” Klobuchar wrote. “Our veterans deserve to be treated with the dignity befitting their sacrifice, and that also means making sure they have a safe and affordable home.”
Our nation’s support for its veterans has come a long way since the Vietnam era when returning soldiers were shunned, sometimes even spit at, and called names. As of October 2018, there were 19.6 million living veterans in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. About 1.8 million of them, or 9%, are women.
Progress can continue this year, in both small and large ways, in commemoration of Veterans Day. Restaurants and other businesses once again are offering veterans discounts and other deserved deals. Area schools are planning events or already have been discussing with students the significance of the holiday and why it’s important.
And then there’s Duluth’s annual parade Monday — with ample curbside space for anyone who is able to come to wave, applaud, or otherwise show gratitude, pay tribute, or offer respect.
10 a.m. Monday — Veterans begin lining up in front of the Depot, 506 W. Michigan St., for Duluth’s annual Veterans Day parade.
10:10 a.m. — The march will travel up Fifth Avenue West in the northbound lane, which will be closed to traffic. Participants then will turn right onto Superior Street and march in the eastbound lane, which also will be closed to traffic.
The parade will turn right onto Lake Avenue, occupying its southbound lane, before turning right again onto Commerce/Railroad Street. No westbound traffic will be allowed on Railroad Street or on South Lake Avenue during the parade.
11 a.m. — The parade will end with a ceremony at the DECC Auditorium. All driving lanes will be reopened once the participating veterans have passed by.