Veterans Day is coming at a very good time. As we are still engaged (as of this writing) in a contentious campaign for votes to determine our next president, we all should pause to take time and remember those men and women who served, fought and died so that we could be free and have the freedom to engage in our democratic process.

At Harmon Park here on Wednesday at 11 a.m., American Legion Post 26 will commemorate the day by honoring and remembering those U.S. veterans who served in our armed forces. Everyone who is able should take time to attend, if not this service but a service around the region.

And while Memorial Day is reserved to remember those who have died while serving, the Post 26 Honor Guard will be recognizing those veterans who died during the COVID-19 pandemic but who were not provided normal veteran ceremonies when they passed.

It is a time, fitting for November, to give thanks to those who took up the call to fight and defend the American ideal of freedom. And these military veterans should also serve as an example of how we, as a nation, should be. In speaking with a U.S. Air Force veteran recently, I asked what he thought of the divisiveness of our nation during this most recent election, the current vote-counting situation, the past four years, and whatever happens as we continue on with the remainder of this year and the years to come.

He said a soldier might have differences with a fellow solider, but those were put aside for the good of the mission. You may not have liked him, he said, but you depended on him.

“If you’re out there on the battlefield and you get shot and can’t get back to your line,” State VFW Commander Garry Smethers said, “it doesn’t make a bit of difference what color they are to come and help you.”

Color, creed, political persuasion, sex, sports affiliation or anything else. The bottom line is we are Americans and we need to be there for each other and depend on one another as such. That’s a continual legacy our brave veterans displayed and still display today that we, as a nation, should take to heart for our very soul.

In the same vein, we need to still be thinking of others regarding the coronavirus. We may not like masks. We may not like the idea of stopping or limiting things for a time to try and rein in COVID cases, but with the recent spike Graves County and surrounding counties like Calloway, McCracken and Marshall have seen, we need to take a step back and consider how our actions are impacting others.

Our actions have caused a surge in case numbers. In September, according to the Graves County Health Department, we had a monthly average of 29 active cases. It started increasing in October to 47 on average. As of this past Thursday, there were 145 active cases with Graves’ total climbing to over 1,000 since March.

I understand people don’t like to be told what to do. I am right there with you. But we all sometimes — myself included — have to swallow pride and just do it. I sound like a broken record. Wear your mask — and not just to get inside the doors at Walmart and then take it off! Social distance, even at church! If you don’t do these things, what will the consequences be?

Do you like going out to eat? Going to the movies and basketball games? Going to actually shop for Christmas? Do you like having your kids attend school in-person?

Mask up.

What if a person’s actions of not wearing a mask out at a grocery store cause a child to become sick? What if a person’s actions of taking off a mask at church to show their faith cause an older, beloved parishioner to become sick?

What if they were to die?

We all should strive to do better, from discussing our political differences to taking the steps to protect the most vulnerable of us from harm. The year of 2020 hasn’t been too pleasant up to this point, but it doesn’t mean we can’t finish strong.

Eric Walker is news editor for The Mayfield Messenger and Marshall County Tribune-Courier. He can be reached at 270-804-4607, ewalker@mayfield-messenger.com or editor@tribunecourier.com.