Do right by veterans

The Veterans Day parade is a colorful testament to the military’s role in the community’s present and past.
The Veterans Day parade is a colorful testament to the military’s role in the community’s present and past.

Americans were united earlier this year in their outrage with the failings of the Department of Veterans Affairs. But that shared interest in veterans’ welfare must not be fleeting. The president and new Congress must come together to do right by those who’ve served and defended the United States.

Though the VA reforms announced Monday sound promising, including improved customer service and a new network of veterans advisory councils, new VA Secretary Bob McDonald has been slow to deliver on his goals. Congress must hold him accountable.

How the VA is doing in Kansas also should be a top priority for members of the Kansas delegation, including Army veteran Mike Pompeo, newly re-elected in the 4th Congressional District, and Marine veteran Pat Roberts, who won a fourth term in the Senate last week.

In Kansas and nationwide those who have benefited from veterans’ service to country – which is every last one of us – should do more to show our respect and admiration for them, on this Veterans Day but also year-round.

Saturday’s Veterans Day parade in downtown Wichita brought old and young and active-duty and National Guard and Reserve units together in a colorful testament to the military’s role in the community’s present and past, with a special focus on this year’s 70th anniversary of D-Day. It’s a wonderful event that deserves even more attendance and attention.

Veterans Memorial Park, 339 N. Veterans Parkway, always among the most special places in Wichita to visit, will be the site of a special event at 11 a.m. Tuesday featuring new park and recreation director Troy Houtman, an Army veteran of Desert Storm. Other area churches and organizations also plan patriotic tributes.

One of the most impressive shows of support for veterans is the Honor Flight program. The Hutchinson-based group’s dozen flights to the nation’s capital this year allowed more than 300 veterans to see their war memorials, including seven World War II and 23 Korean War veterans last week. More than 360 veterans hope to take a future flight – a goal increasingly urgent for those among the “Greatest Generation.”

The instinct to show the community’s gratitude to a great veteran and former Kansan also was part of why the Wichita City Council voted in March to rename Mid-Continent Airport after Dwight D. Eisenhower, effective when the new terminal opens next spring.

The words of his 1954 proclamation of Nov. 11 as Veterans Day remain apt 60 years later: “On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman