On Monday, Nov. 11, America will honor its military veterans, past and present. The tradition started in 1919.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 a day of “solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory” in World War I.

This week, Kokomo and Howard County observe Military Appreciation Days through Nov. 11. Retired Howard County Veteran Services officer Bob Ladd once said it’s the only celebration of its kind in the state.

Military Appreciation Days is the brainchild of Rick Riddle, the one-time manager of Kokomo’s Golden Corral restaurant, who relocated to Evansville. The restaurant chain began serving free meals to veterans 18 years ago. It will again Nov. 11. It’s called Military Appreciation Monday.

The Kokomo Golden Corral served 1,600 free meals to veterans 11 years ago, and neighboring Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery joined in the observance.

That’s when Riddle decided he could help make the observance even bigger.

This week, dozens of Howard County businesses — from restaurants, auto dealers and golf courses to jewelers and hairstylists — will offer discounts for veterans. In 2009, 38 businesses participated.

About 8,000 Howard County residents are military veterans, according to the local Disabled American Veterans chapter. We join the Golden Corral, Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery and the other participating businesses in thanking our family members and neighbors who served in the U.S. military.

Thank you, each and every one, for stepping forward and saying, “I’ll go.”

Kokomo Tribune editorial board

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