The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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November 12, 2012

Trip to D.C. puts focus on veterans

A Reporter's Notebook

HERMITAGE — It’s often easy to take for granted the freedoms we celebrate in America – I know I probably do it far too much.

But it was impossible to forget what more than a million men and women have fought and died for when I visited Washington with World War II veteran Christy Fier.

The Hermitage man was selected for an all-expenses-paid trip in September to the nation’s capital sponsored by the American Legion Post 299 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1338, both Sharon.

Sharon resident Brian Clepper, who lived in the Washington area for 15 years, volunteered to take Fier and his wife Sara to the city and wherever they wanted to go. The idea was for them to go at their own pace and see what they chose, not get shuffled along on an organized tour.

The trip and Fier are featured in the cover story for Life & Times magazine, which will be published Wednesday inside The Herald.

Like many who fought in World War II, a group that’s losing numbers daily, Fier doesn’t like to talk about his service. He saw many bloody battles and lost friends. When he returned to the States, there weren’t any services to help veterans deal with what they’d been through.

That aspect is, at least in theory, better now. But through wars in the Middle East, American service men and women overseas face peril and heartache, and families at home struggle every day without them.

On this Veterans Day, we must remember those who served long ago like Fier and my late grandfather Clifford “Bud” Anderson and those still protecting us today.

A young mother recovering from an injury is waiting for her husband to return after several delays. A soldier tries to find his way after coming home and going through a divorce. A Vietnam veteran will have trouble sleeping, while someone’s daughter stays awake all night on armed watch in Afghanistan.

So many Americans willingly go through tough times to defend our right to vote, as last week’s presidential election should remind us – no matter how we feel about the campaign or the outcome. They stand up for our freedom to say what we believe, worship however we like and face fair and speedy trials.

Honor them today, however you choose.

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