Veterans Day this year once again sees American troops at risk, with perhaps many more of them to follow.
In Iraq, the number of troops is expected to drop to 100,000 by December, down from a high of 192,000.
In Afghanistan, another 68,000 U.S. troops are serving with perhaps another 40,000 -- but possibly fewer -- to be added.
American troops have been in harm's way on most Veterans Days since its observance was conceived as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I.
In 1954, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day in honor of all veterans of U.S. military services.
There are, at present, 24.9 million military veterans in the United States.
The date selected is significant.
World War I formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. The Armistice was actually signed six hours earlier, at 5 a.m., but did not go into effect until the agreed time.
According to the official U.S. government site on Veterans Day, many confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
"Both holidays were established to recognize and honor the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces," according to the site.
However, "Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday in May, was originally set aside as a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
"While those who died are also remembered on Veterans Day ... (it) is intended to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military -- in wartime or peacetime.
"In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served -- not only those who died -- have sacrificed and done their duty."
It's a national holiday, of course. It is also a holiday of remembrance in every state.
It would be hard to find a person in the Tri-Cities who has not either served in a branch of the military or has a family member who did so.
It is interesting to note that nearly a third of the Veterans Days since 1918 have seen the United States in a "hot" war: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, the first and second Gulf Wars.
Factor in the Cold War -- where the risks were enormous even if fewer shots were fired -- and nearly two-thirds of our Veterans Days have been observed in times of peril.
It's a sad outcome for a day originally meant to mark the end of "the war to end all wars."
But along with the sadness should come the pride that every time they were needed, Americans stepped forward to serve.
This is a good time to tell them thanks.