Saturday is Veterans Day, a federal holiday created in 1954 to honor and salute all of those that served in the United States Armed Forces.

It is different from Memorial Day which is held in May and pays tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and died during their military service.

While we should appreciate the service of all our veterans 365 days a year tomorrow is the designated holiday although some will observe it today and the annual parade in downtown Toms River is on Monday.  Regardless, this is the time when we should thank all of those who served, from the shrinking “greatest generation” during World War II to those fighting a very different war today.

My late father served in the United States Marine Corps and while never sent overseas he was a hero to me because like many he jumped at the opportunity to defend his country.  He actually forged his mother’s signature to enlist during the late states of World War II and years later was recalled during the Korean War.

He forged friendships during those times that would last a lifetime, although some of those friends never returned, something he would talk about time and time again.

While they never ask for it Veterans Day is our opportunity to simply thank the men and women who have served.  Most did so out of a sense of obligation and clearly there have been times when this country and its citizens did not show its appreciation.

Fortunately that has changed in recent years and the honor and respect most continue from us and our government through the Department of Veterans Affairs.  We have to do better in taking care of those that need it because simply put we have not.

Tomorrow, thank those you know who have served, whether it be a relative, friend, co-worker or even a total stranger who might be wearing a hat or something else that proudly displays their military service.  It’s their day and they deserve it.