Nov. 11 is recognized in our country as Veterans Day. It is a good time to stop and take stock of what our American military is up to at this point in our history.

Our current service members (both active-duty and Reserve components) make up slightly less than 0.5 percent of our national population. Let this sink in for a minute. Truth be told, the daily lives and well-being of the other 99.5 percent of all Americans depends upon the commitment, vigilance and readiness of this small group. We are still officially engaged in the war on terrorism in places all around the globe. This was recently attested to by the deaths of Army rangers in Niger. How many Mainers even know where Niger is located, or that Americans in uniform are serving there today?

Women and men in uniform are risking their lives, and sometimes sacrificing them, each and every day. In 2017, Mainers in uniform have died in places such as Australia and Somalia.

And even when they are spared from death, these brave souls often sacrifice many other aspects of their lives — ones that we take for granted — because of long deployments and extensive training. Can you imagine how difficult it is for a family when a spouse and a parent is deployed for six months, a year or longer?

We can have a reasonable and honest debate about the vast extent of the missions that we are asking our military to undertake on every part of our planet. I, for one, think that this kind of debate is long overdue. But as long as our nation continues to ask so much of our uniformed services, I believe that we all have a duty to honor those few who are making daily sacrifices on our behalf and to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We owe a tremendous debt to these people. It is just plain wrong for us to take them for granted and to continue to lead our everyday lives as if their sacrifices are unimportant.

In my mind, though, guilt is a worthless emotion. I have no desire to encourage anyone to feel guilty about the sacrifices of our military. Instead, I encourage you to do something positive. Words are nice, like “thank you for your service.” But, more than words, actions are what truly matter.


Wear Blue: Run To Remember is a national movement of people who use running as a way to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, to honor those who continue to fight for our nation and to support the families of the fallen. There are Wear Blue running groups in many cities across the nation, and one has just been launched for the Portland area. At noon on the first Saturday of each month, a group is gathering in the parking lot off Preble Street to run together around Back Cove. We will wear blue and we will begin with a Circle of Remembrance to honor our veterans and those few who continue to fight for us.

This is not a race. People can walk, jog or run the trail at any pace that suits them. And we do not raise money. We are raising awareness! Too many Americans live their daily lives without remembering that those very lives depend on that one-half of 1 percent who are willing to sacrifice for the rest of us. These sacrifices ought not to be forgotten.

Please join me and others at Back Cove as we wear blue and run to remember on Saturday, Dec. 2 at noon (or organize your own Run to Remember where you live). All are welcome! Bring the name of a veteran or current service member whom you want to remember. And bring a readiness to sweat just a little in honor of those who every day give so much for us.

The Rev. Nathan Ferrell of Falmouth is a lieutenant and a chaplain in the Navy Reserve. For more information about the Portland-area Wear Blue: Run to Remember, visit

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