Let us remember as the winter months come the homeless veterans living in America

This editorial is the opinion of Morgan Hill Life

With Thanksgiving Day coming up, take time to show gratitude for our American freedoms by thanking a vet. Millions of men and women across our nation who have served in the military have given much to keep our country safe from tyranny. Many of them have sacrificed a lot — and even lost their lives — to bring freedom to other nations around the world.

The South Valley is a region where residents deeply care about our military veterans from all branches of the armed forces. Although we wish we could put a spotlight on each and every one of the veterans who give so much to the community, we can only do a few. The list is long of local people who generously give of their time and talent to help veterans.

Among them is Eddie Bowers, the Army veteran who organized the Memorial Day and Veterans Day commemoration ceremonies in downtown Morgan Hill over the years. In past years, more than 100 residents, including retired members of the military, take a moment in their morning on those holidays to say a prayer and salute the flag in honor of people who served in military uniform.

We’d like to thank veteran Ray Sanchez who recently retired from more than 15 years of service as a director for the South Santa Clara Valley Memorial District, which operates the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Gilroy. He decided not to run for re-election, leaving an opening to be filled by appointment by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

“Ray has done a lot for veterans over the years in his role as a director,” said SSCVMD Board President Phil Garcia. “Among his many accomplishments, he initiated the first veterans’ resource fair at the Gilroy Veterans Hall, which has grown into a regular event that has helped hundreds of local vets. He will be missed and leaves big boots to fill.”

Photo by Marty Cheek
Lawson Sakai shows the letter from the French Consulate congratulatig him on his nomination as ‘Cevalier’ of the Legion of Honor.

Another South Valley veteran who helped those who served in the armed forces is Lawson Sakai. He died June 16 and was buried June 27 at Gavilan Hills Memorial Park in Gilroy. The longtime resident of both Gilroy and Morgan Hill served during World War II in the legendary 442nd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army. An all Japanese-American band of brothers, the 442nd became the most decorated battalion in U.S. history.

In 2015 Sakai and others received the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor signed by the French president. Sakai founded the Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the legacy of Japanese-American veterans.

Out of the more than 21 million veterans in American today, more than two million are women. Many of them make the South Valley region their home. Among them is Gilroy resident Mary Cortani, a U.S. Army veteran who founded Operation Freedom Paws. The San Martin-based organization brings together veterans and dogs for the benefit of both. She started the nonprofit after she received a phone call during one holiday season from a U.S. Marine who had fought in the Iraq War and was considering suicide. Operation Freedom Paws brings dogs and veterans to its training facility for mental health therapy such as dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Let us especially remember as the winter months come that there are homeless veterans living in America. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the current number is around 40,000. Local organizations like the Gilroy Compassion Center help those homeless veterans in the South Valley find the resources they need to survive.

Veterans give up much in their lives to serve their country. The freedoms we as Americans enjoy, as well as many nations of the world enjoy, start with the individual who decides to put on the uniform and thus makes many personal and professional sacrifices. And let’s not forget their family members — especially spouses — who also make sacrifices to let loved ones serve.

Let us honor with a spirit of true gratitude the men and women of our military, past and present, whose deeds give life to the freedoms so many citizens are blessed to enjoy. Our veterans carry the conviction of our democratic nation to every corner of the globe. They make the world a better place through their sacrifices in protecting the values and virtues of the American republic.

We are fortunate that so many honorable men and women in our region gave of some of the best years of their lives in order for us to enjoy the quality of life we do. This Thanksgiving Day consider your friends, neighbors and fellow citizens in the South Valley region who have made it possible for you and your family to enjoy the benefits of a freedom-founded nation. Take a moment to thank them for their service.

Morgan Hill Life Editorial
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