The documentary series “POV” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) honors Veterans Day with “The Way We Get By.” The film looks at the troop greeters of Bangor, Maine, men and women who have been present with handshakes and encouragement for every troop plane going to or returning from combat in Iraq. Famous among the troops, these greeters have been the first and last civilian faces seen on American soil by more than 900,000 soldiers
“Way” profiles three greeters, all of them elderly, as they rouse themselves at 2 a.m. to meet a plane. Theirs is a world of dedication and clockwork-like dependability. But this is no flag-waving, yellow ribbon film. For some of these greeters, their interaction with each other and with the troops is their only chance to get out of the house and escape the tedium, isolation and pain of old age and solitude. They know they can’t let the soldiers down, but each greeter is driven by his or her own particular story of service and loss. A moving and surprising film.
• Other Veterans Day programming includes the “Secrets of the Dead” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listing) installment “The Airmen and the Headhunters,” which recalls a peculiar story in an exotic corner of World War II. After crewmembers of a U.S. bomber parachuted into the jungles of Borneo, they escaped Japanese soldiers only to fall into the hands of the Dayak tribe, islanders better known for cannibalism than hospitality. Filled with interviews with tribesmen and soldiers, this story of survival ranks up there with Hollywood thrillers.
• “Change the World: American Heroes” (7 p.m., HGTV) follows the renovation and makeovers of veterans’ homes in St. Louis and Philadelphia.
• Not unlike its Fox predecessor “Ally McBeal,” “Glee” (8 p.m., Fox) walks a fine line between endearingly clever and too darned cute. Tonight’s episode plays with notions of diversity, adversity and talent, and along the way reveals a thing or two about major characters, including a possible human dimension to Coach Sue (Jane Lynch).
Tonight’s other highlights
• Veronica discovers her husband’s secret on “Mercy” (7 p.m. NBC).
• Two more go home on “So You Think You Can Dance” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood host the 43rd Annual CMA Awards (7 p.m., ABC).
• “Coca-Cola: The Real Story Behind the Real Thing” (8 p.m., CNBC) profiles the Atlanta-based beverage giant and one of the world’s most enduring brands.
• Ray (Laurence Fishburne) follows the trail of an organ-harvesting racket to New York on “CSI: NY” (9 p.m., CBS), the second of three crossover episodes.
William Shatner stars in the 1977 ecological shocker “Kingdom of the Spiders” (9 p.m., IFC).
Christine suddenly feels practical on “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (7 p.m., CBS) ... A friend’s attitude irks Allison on “Gary Unmarried” (7:30 p.m., CBS) ... A killer travels like a rock roadie on “Criminal Minds” (8 p.m., CBS) ... Problems at home sidetrack Stabler on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (8 p.m., NBC) ... Stefan’s age shows on “The Vampire Diaries” (8 p.m., CW).