Veterans Day this year falls on Sunday — it marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the war that we called, at the time, the Great War, or (in a burst of optimism that sadly has been proven wrong over and over again), "the war to end all wars."
Clearly, it was not. Time and again since that first Armistice Day a century ago, the United States has seen fit to send men and women into combat in far-flung locations across the globe. Some of them never came back. Some of them came back changed forever. All of them have been shaped to some extent by their experiences in the armed services.
We made a deal with those men and women when they donned the uniform of this country: Upon their return, we told them, we would take care of their physical and mental health needs. We would help them reintegrate into civilian life. And we vowed to honor their service.
This weekend offers an excellent opportunity for mid-valley residents to follow through on the latter part of that deal: On Saturday at 11 a.m., downtown Albany will again host the city's annual parade to honor veterans. This grand spectacle (and, really, there's no other way to describe it) will feature more than 200 entries and thousands of spectators will line downtown's streets to take it all in. Bands will play. Candy will be thrown. Politicians, smiling and waving, will join the procession.
The weather, always chancy in the mid-valley at this time of year, should cooperate: Forecasters say any remaining patches of morning fog should clear off by 10 a.m., leaving partly sunny skies and a high temperature around 50, with a light wind — all told, about the best we can expect from November.
Organizers say Albany's Veterans Day parade is the third largest in the nation and the largest west of the Mississippi River, and we don't doubt it; if you're planning to attend, know that it represents a commitment of three or four hours.
But that sacrifice is trifling compared to the sacrifices that our veterans have made in service to this country. Remember that as you stand on Saturday morning to pay tribute to the men and women of our armed forces.
And remember this as well: The promises that we made to those veterans still stand — and will stand for as long as humans continue to fight wars. (mm)
About a tree
The Veterans Day parade on Saturday isn't the only celebration going on this weekend in the mid-valley: Sweet Home plans to hold a party starting at noon Friday to fete the Capitol Christmas Tree as it begins its journey to Washington, D.C.
The 80-foot-tall Noble fir was harvested last Friday from the Sweet Home Ranger District east of Cascadia. Since then, Willamette National Forest staff members have been preparing the tree for its 3,000-mile trip.
This has been a huge deal for Sweet Home and, really, for the entire mid-valley. But it's appropriate that Sweet Home should host the party that serves as the tree's sendoff, especially seeing how much work that community has put into the various events and promotions surrounding the selection of the tree. Friday's events include live music starting at noon, a street fair, a logging exhibition and a lighted Christmas parade. Most events will be held in the north parking lot of Sweet Home High School.
Sometime after the party wraps up, the tree will start its journey by heading some 29 miles west, in what would appear to be the wrong direction from D.C. But the trip west will allow the tree to be on display in front of the Linn County Courthouse in Albany as part of the city's annual Veterans Day Parade. The tree is scheduled to make it to Washington in plenty of time for its lighting ceremony on the weekend of Dec. 5-6. You can follow its progress at the website www.trackthetree.com or at our website, democratherald.com. (mm)