The Garden City Telegram
5/25/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Proper salute

Memorial Day brings time to reflect on sacrifices.

As always, families nationwide have plans for the long Memorial Day weekend.

Whether that means picnics, trips to the pool or other activities, everyone should remember the true meaning of the holiday.

Memorial Day is a time to honor U.S. military men and women who died serving the nation.

The holiday also brings a reminder of the contributions of those at war who always should be in our thoughts and prayers.

Sadly, ongoing war in Afghanistan has faded from view for many — to the point that it's sometimes referred to as the "forgotten war."

Now the nation's longest war, the grim chapter of American history must never be forgotten.

The fighting that started in late 2001 as part of the war on terror has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. troops, and we can expect more deaths moving forward.

As for those who do make it home from war, their care must be a top priority.

Reports of ailing veterans of all ages not receiving prompt attention have been far too common. Many have serious physical and psychological wounds, and should never wait for assistance.

State and federal lawmakers busy bickering over spending should wholeheartedly endorse better support for our vets.

But in Kansas in particular, a huge state budget shortfall created by unnecessary income-tax cuts could trigger deep spending reductions that cripple many vital programs, human services included.

Such cuts only would compound the pain of an already tragic situation that has a growing number of veterans and others in need of disability and mental-health assistance waiting in line for help or simply going without.

This state and nation cannot let that continue. If anything, lawmakers should find ways to allocate more funds for programs veterans need.

On Monday, families will visit graves of their loved ones in observance of Memorial Day, the holiday honoring American troops who made the ultimate sacrifice.

In going about that solemn ritual, we also would honor our fallen heroes by praying for the speedy, safe return of U.S. troops still at war — and doing more to support our veterans here at home.