A look back at honoring veterans


July 4 the country celebrates remembers those who are fighting and have fought for our freedom, but every day in Central Illinois people take steps to recognize the veterans and all that they've done for us.

Fireworks boom, flags blow in the wind and it's a day filled with tradition.

"The best thing we can do is support the veterans," said Ruby Condiff of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Because after all that's what July 4 is about, but it doesn't take a holiday to support veterans.  Just a couple of months ago, Ron Stephens walked 125 miles to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project.

"When we take care of those who took care of us, what more noble cause could there be," the Vietnam Veteran said.

In May the Decatur Public Library honored those who took care of us during Vietnam with a wreath laying ceremony.

"It's up to us to remember it and say thank you to those who served," said Rhalo Thomas of the Decatur Public Library.  "Do it now before they're gone."

Names on the World War II memorial represent those that are gone but for those that are still here we're reminded of the costs that some of them face every day.

"It's just things that you try to cope with the best you can and sometimes you can't and sometimes you can," Richard Scales said.

Scales, a Vietnam veteran raised awareness last week about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  For him and other disabled veterans life is about moving forward.

"It's tough, but you get used to it after awhile," said Veteran Chris Wiese.

Whether it's through the help of local job fairs, like this one held last Veterans Day, or a holiday, "We should always enjoy it, celebrate," Condiff said.

People remind troops that they're not alone.

Recently Senator Mark Kirk spoke out about Chicago's Veterans Affairs backlog issue.  It's taking almost 500 days to process Illinois veterans disability claims.  He said he'd like to give about $2.5 billion to help take care of the problem.

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