As we celebrate our veterans on this Veterans Day 2016, I feel grateful as the daughter of a Korean War veteran to be honoring our veterans this week. For someone like me, stories of the war and the sacrifices he and his fellow army “buddies” made literally jump off the pages of his scrapbooks. How wonderful it is to see the spirit of patriotism through the eyes of a veteran!

Recent events have made us realize what we have as Americans — and the freedoms we enjoy. On Friday, we recognize those who have protected and continue to protect our way of life.

Originally called “Armistice Day,” this day was conceived as a tribute to the Americans who sacrificed their lives in World War I. Now we also honor all American veterans who have served in any war, before or after World War I to defend democracy. We honor our veterans from every time of peace as well, for they protect what our war veterans fought and died to defend.

We celebrate this day because we know that without them, there would be no “land of the free.” Without the veterans of the American Revolution, there would not even be a United States of America. Without the veterans of the Civil War, who fought on either side for what they believed in, the strong, united America we know today might never have been possible. Without the World War II veterans, we might be living in a country or world where freedom of choice or the right to vote no longer exist.

And without those currently fighting the War on Terrorism, we would be living in constant fear or simply, without freedom. All of our veterans have protected our democracy, our freedom and our way of life. We honor and thank them on Veterans Day; however, we must continue to honor them. They have given us the chance to live in freedom today and an opportunity to look forward to tomorrow. They have given us every day, and they have protected every freedom. We must honor them every day, in every way that we can.

The best way to honor our veterans is to take an active part in maintaining freedom in America. We must teach future generations about what it means to be an American. We must volunteer in our communities, take care of veterans and their families, exercise our right to vote in elections, and continue to try to make America the very best that it can be. The best way to thank our veterans is to live well and do our best to help others.

Without our veterans, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Without their continued service, we won’t be able to reach where we could be tomorrow. I am forever indebted to those men and women and will never forget them. Please join me in honoring our veterans at 9 a.m. Friday in the Santa Fe High School Gymnasium, 16000 state Highway 6. On this day we pay homage to the veterans of all wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of our nation.

Patti Hanssard is the assistant superintendent for human resources and the public relations officer for SFISD.

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