Veterans Day has new meaning for most Americans since Sept. 11, 2001. The loss of thousands of civilian lives that day and the resulting war on terrorism have renewed our appreciation for the freedoms we cherish.

We have self-government. No monarch or dictator forces us to do anything. We have freedoms of expression and religion. Any political or social viewpoint is tolerated, even the most repugnant. You can choose any religion or none at all. All men and women have equal rights. One's race, gender or ethnic background is not a barrier to achievement or success.

But this way of life has required sacrifices from Americans since the time of the American Revolution and continuing through many other wars. It's an undeniable fact: Freedom is not free.

We urge local residents to take time Monday to recognize the contributions of veterans to the way we are able to lead our lives. If possible, residents should attend a ceremony at 10 a.m. in Martin Stadium, organized by the Lowndes Veterans Council.

The ceremony is a combined effort of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS Post 607, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Knights of Columbus.

All veterans, regardless of when or where they served, deserve recognition and appreciation. They face long separations from family and daily risks to their lives. And, of course, many die in the line of duty.

People driving to the ceremony should enter from Norman Drive. Parking will be in the parking lot on the home side of the stadium by driving around the south end of the stadium.

Seating in Section A on the home side of the stadium will be reserved for community visitors. Seating for veterans/active duty members and their spouses will be on the field.

Take time Monday and remember why the United States of America has more freedoms than any country in the world.

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