“You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

            This is one of the most common adages that perfectly sums up passive appreciation, sometimes for the little things, but other times for the more important ones.

            But the phrase misses a vital part of passive appreciation, in that whatever is “had” and then “gone” is not necessarily unappreciated, it’s that the concept of losing it was never considered a realistic possibility.

            So, while people might value what they have on a daily basis, thanking each other, our community, or God for it all, the glass of gratitude is only half full until the reality of loss is considered.

            And that reality is rarely considered in such a way.

            Each year, the common man is taught to remember the Veterans who have fought for this country in the most self-sacrificial ways possible. It’s often repeated that while some have sacrificed time away from families, mental health, physical abilities, or even senses, others have made the “ultimate sacrifice,” and have selflessly paid for this country in the most honorable way possible. We here at The Messenger cannot thank or honor those men and women enough for those sacrifices and we fear a future in which those selfless service members cease to be recognized.

            Which leads us to our point on passive appreciation: while we can host annual memorials, wreath-layings, monument dedications, and other public displays of appreciation, honor, and remembrance, it’s only the first half of the equation in preserving the legacy of the most honorable citizens in our country’s history.

            When asked about the type of government we have in the United States, Benjamin Franklin replied: “A republic, if you can keep it…”

            Maintaining a certain form of government is one challenge, but maintaining a cultural identity, a shared spirit, a work ethic, a consistent list of values, a society, and a nation overall is perhaps the most difficult challenge that every civilization in history has at some point faced.

            This is not a feat to be managed on one day a year, nor is it one just immortalized through dedications and plaques. This type of remembrance is one that requires generational stewardship and an intimate understanding of our founding as a country and the values that have been retained through hard-fought efforts and sacrifice.

            The United States is perhaps the only country on earth actively teaching its children to hate their country, to label each other, and to find power in division and along cultural and ideological lines. It’s not enough that many Americans are unaware of how their government is supposed to be run from an objective standpoint, but they must also have a brewing discontent with the very essence of their country as well.

            When this is the mood of the current and next generations of Americans, it stands to reason that the outward displays of gratitude for those who served and died for our country are not rooted in true appreciation, rather one of a formality that inevitably loses its meaning as our country loses its luster in the eyes of those set to inherit it.

            And when intrinsic value is no longer appreciated, why would the threat of loss be the least bit intimidating?

            The reverence for our values and our Veterans must be rooted in more genuine and legitimate pensiveness, not only regarding the magnitude of what countless have done to protect them, but also in what we as a country stand to lose in its wake.

            The Messenger wishes all a happy, esteemed Veterans Day to all who served and are serving, as well as the families affected by the monumental loss from the monumental sacrifice made. We hope that the United States soon understands the profound selflessness of our great Veterans, as well as the profound values of our country…

            …if we can keep them.

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The Messenger Papers Editorial Board aspires to represent a fair cross section of our Suffolk County readers. We work to present a moderate view on issues facing Long Island families and businesses.