Caribou American Legion Post 15 Vice Commander Wayne Little salutes as taps play during the conclusion of the organization's annual Veterans Day ceremony in 2020. Credit: Chris Bouchard / Aroostook Republican

The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

Every Nov. 11 provides an important opportunity to recognize and thank America’s veterans. These efforts, however, cannot be confined to a single day. The gratitude, the kind words and the commitment to action must be a sustained effort throughout the year.

As written this week by Maine veteran Robert Tomlins, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, “Veterans, whether it is those who have served or are serving, don’t protect the United States one or two days a year.”

“They do it every day, 24/7, 365 days a year but people don’t seem to think about it until their freedom to do what they want is challenged,” Tomlins continued. “When will citizens of the U.S. realize veterans need to be celebrated every day, not just one or two days a year, for what they do to keep this country a free and independent place to live?”

As a news organization, the Bangor Daily News has been thinking about ways we can better serve those who have served our country. In particular, we are working to amplify the voices of Maine veterans here in our opinion pages. That means engaging with veterans who are willing to share their experiences and perspectives with readers. It’s one thing to have some letters to the editor and columns on days when we honor veterans, but we want to make sure veteran voices are heard throughout the year.

We are thankful when veterans like Tomlins take the time to share their thoughts, even when that sharing might be difficult. Veterans are a diverse group with many different backgrounds, experiences, triumphs, concerns and challenges. The more we can hear from different members of this community, the better — like how Maureen Ramsey and Michael Pooler, who both served in Afghanistan, shared their frustration with how the U.S. withdrew from that conflict this year.

Our goal is not just to thank veterans for their service, but to gain more insight into why they served and how that service fits into the fabric of our society. We hope that elevating veteran voices better informs our readers about the experiences of their fellow Mainers. We know it helps better inform our work.

So, if you’re a veteran or the family member of a veteran, and you have thoughts you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to submit a letter to the editor or guest column. We can’t accept every submission, and we do have guidelines for opinion commentary, but we want to hear from you and we want to work with you. You can submit opinion pieces using our online form (https://bangordailynews.com/submit/), or by emailing us at letters@bangordailynews.com.

The event we held this week with members of the Maine Troop Greeters is an example of how these letters and columns can impact our conversation about veterans. First and foremost, this event would not have happened Wednesday night without three decades of inspiring work from the troop greeters. But it’s also worth noting that our idea for holding this event started months ago with a letter to the editor written by veteran William Mauzey, all the way from Utah.

Mauzey was writing to thank the troop greeters and Bangor for the reception he received flying home from Desert Storm. In the process, he helped inspire an entire BDN event. We’d like to build more of this kind of dialogue, and we’d like you to be a part of it — not just on Veterans Day, but throughout the year.

30 years of the Bangor troop greeters:

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...