Editorial: Be thankful

There is no particular reason to say thank you today to those who risk much to serve the many.

For instance, Memorial Day was a summer ago, and Veterans Day is still more than a month away. And let’s be honest, most of us can’t even name the holiday that is supposed to be set aside for honoring police, fire and other first responders.

But perhaps we are getting signals from other sources to say thanks — one signal from television and the other from our backyards.

On television, PBS’ documentary “The Vietnam War” is captivating a good part of the country. Douglas County has particular reason to pay attention. Baldwin City resident John Musgrave is a central figure in the film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

Musgrave and his experience as a U.S. Marine in some of the bloodiest regions of Vietnam have been featured in the Journal-World before. Now, he’s sharing those experiences with an international audience. Those who know Musgrave can attest that he would want all to understand he is merely one example of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed in that war. But he is a fine example, and an even finer reminder of why we ought to say thank you to those who have served.

The documentary has been thought-provoking on many levels. It illuminates the dangers of fighting an enemy you do not understand, the perils of a country divided, the importance of the right leadership at the right moments, and — perhaps most importantly — it should cement the belief that you don’t have to agree with a war to respect the sacrifices of those who are ordered to fight it.

In our backyards, the scene is perhaps not as much thought-provoking as it is mind-numbing. Whether it is borne out statistically or not, it sure seems like these last few months have been particularly violent in Lawrence.

Take Thursday and Friday of last week, for example. The Journal-World’s website listed the following articles: A second suspect was arrested in a fatal Motel 6 shooting; a Eudora day care worker must stand trail for murder of an infant; a Lawrence man was charged with first degree murder in a 27th Terrace shooting; a Florida man was charged with a child sex crime in Douglas County; police are investigating the shooting death of a 1-year old; and a man was found guilty of molesting a child from 2012.

It can be difficult to read about those cases, but it has to be even more difficult for the men and women who investigate those cases and provide care to the victims and their families.

There’s a growing sense that Lawrence has many issues to discuss related to crime and public safety. The Lawrence Police Department has a new chief beginning next month, and that likely will be a good opportunity to have those discussions.

In the meantime, we can have a much simpler conversation. It involves simply saying ‘thank you’ to those who serve: veterans, military personnel, police officers, firefighters, first responders, and all those who carry a burden that we would not wish to.

There is nothing on the calendar that says we should do so, other than this: In America, every day is still a free day, which makes it the perfect day to be thankful.