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Answer the call to service

President Bush touched on an important theme the other night. Every American this Veterans Day has been challenged to serve his or her country. The home front is as important as the military campaign against terrorism overseas. The president wants us to volunteer, speak up and come together.

America's reputation as a can-do nation is burnished in part by the sacrifice so many of our citizens have made to preserve our freedoms and way of life. We pause today to honor the men and women in uniform, recognize their courage and sacrifice and recommit ourselves to the ideals that always must be defended.

The president's call for 20,000 volunteers to help with homeland security is an inspiring sign of confidence in the American people. It doesn't matter whether you help with Crime Watch patrols, see to the needs of an elderly neighbor or merely stay informed about what's going on in your world and community. Your involvement will ease the load of a fellow citizen. "Our citizens have new responsibilities," the president said, in announcing a task force that will recommend steps Americans can take to protect themselves at home and at work.

There is no finer way to honor veterans on this day than for civilians to enlist in the call for service to our nation. There are many ways to serve and to share the great responsibilities that every generation must shoulder. Our freedoms are too fundamental to be destroyed in a single moment.

If there's been any comfort since that terrible day, Sept. 11, it has been in seeing citizens come together, indivisible by race, sex, age or class, united in purpose and spirit.

Maybe America _ thanks to the strong foundation our forefathers laid _ isn't as changed a nation as our enemies may think.

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