Veterans Day is Nov. 11, when we remember and honor those who have served and the 0.5 percent of the U.S. population now serving in the armed services. Currently they all volunteer and do so for many reasons but all know they are risking their lives to do what their country asks of them and to keep the battle from coming here.
On Nov. 7, 2010, Sgt. Aaron B. Cruttenden, 25 at the time, and Spc. Dale Kridlow were killed in action when they came under small-arms fire in Afghanistan while sweeping for explosives in Operation Enduring Freedom. His brother in Fort Collins said, "He was always willing to help out, no one was a stranger to him. He would give you the shirt off his back. That's who he was. He died trying to help the other soldiers."
I was honored to ride with the American Legion Riders and Patriot Guard Riders escorting Sgt. Cruttenden to his funeral in Hotchkiss. He rests now in Norwood. We may not often think about those in distant lands who secure our freedoms. The memory of Sgt. Cruttenden reminds us that heroes are not always from somewhere else, they are also our neighbors, here among us. All veterans, step up and join the American Legion and other nonprofit groups for which you may be eligible. They work to help active duty military, veterans, their families, children and local communities. Memberships are declining in all veteran groups as the old pass on and new people are needed to continue providing these valuable services. The Legion also has memberships for sons, the auxiliary for ladies, and non-veteran affiliates.