The pandemic has wreaked havoc on many of our cherished institutions, events and activities. Among the groups that have been sidelined in some ways are the area's veterans - and the community can't let that happen.

Because of social distancing constraints - and because many of our veterans are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 - the popular Veterans Day parade has been canceled. The official one, anyway – other events will replace it, and we'll have more on those in the weekend edition. But there are still other ways area residents can pay homage to these people who deserve it the most.

Several businesses are planning special deals for vets on their day - Wednesday, Nov. 11, and perhaps earlier. Some businesses always offer discounts for veterans, as a matter of principle. The Blue Star Mothers are already hard at work cobbling together Thanksgiving and Christmas care packages for veterans serving overseas. And local veterans organizations - like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans - are trying to recruit new members. Details on some of those projects have been mentioned in recent TDP stories.

Linking veterans with others in their peer group is critically important. Local veterans groups have long worried about their declining membership, as older members pass away. They'd like more young veterans and active-duty military to get involved. Of course, older members realize that younger folks have different priorities and commitments, but becoming part of a group like the VFW or Legion could provide valuable resources to which younger vets might not realize they're entitled.

TDP has contact information for most of these groups. Not only do we publish it every February in our Newcomers Guide, we also have regular contact with group leaders. We'd be happy to help veterans find their niche. They can email us at news@tahlequahdailypress.com. We also know that many veterans, especially older ones, subscribe to TDP. Organization members that send us press releases and information can keep everyone apprised of what's going on in this manner.

Perhaps the most important thing going on in the next few days is the dedication of a memorial at 2 p.m. Nov. 7 in front of Reasor's. The public is invited, with proper protocols in place. But those who don't attend the dedication should make a point of stopping by and checking it out.

As usual, TDP will publish its Salute to the Military in the Tuesday, Nov. 10, edition. Participation hasn't been as high as it normally is, probably because of the pandemic. Still, we want every veteran and active-duty military person in this county to know how much we appreciate their service. It's become kind of a habit to tell veterans this, but we really mean it - and so should everyone else.

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