With fewer than 10% of Americans claiming the title “military veteran,” it’s clear why those who serve and have served our nation in the armed forces are to be honored and memorialized.

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Ten years ago, Orangeburg took an important step in honoring veterans and those who paid the ultimate price in the nation’s wars and conflicts. The city dedicated the Veterans Memorial Park across from Edisto Memorial Gardens – a project that was 10 years in the making.

Then-Mayor Paul Miller said the memorial was the culmination of a dream, crediting Orangeburg veteran Vic Fenton with pushing the concept.

Veterans are thankful for the recognition, and Orangeburg residents are justifiably proud of the community’s show of support for those who serve and protect this country.

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Soldiers and those wearing the uniform are the most vocal advocates for peace, but they are ready to do their duty for the nation when called. They take the oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” going into harm’s way for all of us. That is what makes them and their sacrifice special.

Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman is a former fighter pilot and veteran with 65 combat missions in Iraq and Serbia. Founder of The Wingman Foundation, he is a motivational speaker and author.

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Waldman writes of those who serve the country in the military: “It’s about commitment, integrity, courage and sacrifice, and I am a firm believer that it takes character and discipline to uphold these patriotic values.”

Waldman says Americans can pay tribute to veterans by committing to service in their everyday lives and creating an environment in the country that embraces the values and principles that our soldiers fight to protect. He says Americans should:

• Honor our responsibilities as parents, employees and business owners.

• Live with integrity at home and at work.

• Lend a wing and help those who are suffering.

• Protect our environment, give to charity and volunteer in our communities.

“My question today to you is this: Are you worth fighting for?” Waldman asks.

In the answer all can find why the people who commit to serving the country go beyond the call of duty as a good citizen. They set the example that can be a model for all. They are due all honor.

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