When the Estherville Elks Lodge footed the bill for 90 school lunches last Thursday and again Tuesday, little did it know the big impact it would have on people - both big and small.
The lodge paid for the lunches for veterans invited by students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Attending were vets from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan - wars spanning the past 70 years.
What was unique about having vets have lunch with their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren was that they talked about something rarely do - war and how it affected their lives.
Usually, when you go visit Grandpa or another relative, it's to go fishing, go on a picnic or maybe play games or watch a movie together. War, though. Now that's a different topic.
As the vets sat down to placemats made by kids who thanked them for their service, more than one eye moistened a little. No doubt, a lot of Vietnam vets' memories rolled back to the 1960s when veterans were not thanked for their service. Far from it. That's why many of them hid the fact they had served for decades, and only in recent decades unburied their pride and brought it out into the open where it belongs.
Right now, attitudes toward our military and veterans are about as good as they've been since World War II. And even then, there was a draft. Today, there's still Selective Service registration but no draft. Despite that, the US has had no problem finding the soldiers it has needed for both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yes, we are proud of our military and our veterans. And we should be. They deserve it.
But let's remember the veterans returning today, too. They need and deserve the best medical and psychological care available. That is something we simply must give them.
Because they've given us their all.