They splashed ashore amid the tepid waves that lapped South Pacific islands infested with machine-gunners, deadly and invisible in the dank green of the jungle.

They slithered through the ice-mantled mud of a Belgian forest where Nazi tanks roamed like the mythical monsters from some medieval tale.

They soared thousands of feet in the sky and they heard the menacing tick of flak plinking against the thin aluminum of the fuselage.

They traveled the high seas, where death could arrive, unseen, from below and from above.

They fought in places as distant and as difficult to pronounce as Iwo Jima and Bastogne, the Chosin Reservoir and Da Nang, Kirkuk and Kuwait City.

And they awaited the enemy, keeping their vigil in places as near and as familiar as the Antlers Hotel in downtown Baker City.

They are Baker County's veterans.

And on Sunday we try to thank them.

We try but inevitably we fail, because neither the patriotic parade that pushes our hands to our hearts, nor the eloquent speech that siphons tears from our eyes, could ever square our account with these brave and selfless men and women.

No gift we can give them could ever even approach in value the priceless freedom which they, through their sacrifices, have bestowed on us, and on generations they will never know.

So we give them their own day, and every November it comes round again, our chance to renew the one promise, however meager, that we can make.

The promise that we will always remember, for as long as there is a Nov. 11, those things which they, perhaps, can never forget.

The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars will hold a Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Sunday on the lawn of the Baker County Courthouse, 1995 Third St.