To all U.S. troops everywhere- Thank you

P Americans are showing their support for the troops by praying, wearing yellow ribbons, meeting together and honoring soldiers in print.

In spite of political and philosophical differences, Americans once again are showing their high regard for the men and women who serve this nation by wearing the uniforms of its various military branches.

Whenever our troops are placed in situations where they are called upon to carry out the duties they were trained to perform, Americans rally around with support that takes all forms.

Perhaps the most universal response to dangerous situations -- and our troops involved in the war in Iraq are certainly in harm's way -- is to pray. There have been organized prayer services in our area. But many individuals, families and organizations have paused many times in recent days to offer up special prayers for those who have been deployed to trouble spots around the globe.

Yellow ribbons are showing up everywhere as a sign of support and a hope for the safe return of all those serving in the military. Ribbons are being placed around trees. Ribbons are showing up on our clothing. Ribbons are being added to special displays that support the military. Beginning today, the front page of the Southeast Missourian also will have a yellow ribbon.

Both of Cape Girardeau's hospitals, St. Francis Medical Center and Southeast Missouri Hospital, have started programs that support the troops. Southeast Missouri Hospital has a support group for families of military personnel serving overseas. The group meets the first Friday of each month (call 651-5825 for more information). The Friends of St. Francis Medical Center has started a program that sends mail and care packages to the troops (call 331-3000 for more information).

Also in today's Missourian is a special 12-page section called Honoring Our Troops.

In the special section, more than 170 servicemen and women are recognized, thanks to the assistance of family members who submitted names and photos of their loved ones in uniform. Take a few minutes to review this special military honor roll. And take a few minutes to say a prayer for their safety and speedy return.

And if you know any of these military men and women, please let their families know how much you appreciate the service they are performing for their country. A kind word of support means so much to family members who are rightfully proud of their loved ones.

(The Southeast Missourian will continue to honor military personnel. Send in names and photos, and they will be published on the Faces & Places pages of future editions.)

The special section also includes special tributes to the men and women in the military from businesses and individuals who are proud to be Americans and who are grateful beyond words for the freedom and safety our troops are fighting to protect.

This is, without question, a trying time for our nation. But it also is a time of pride for the men and women who volunteer for military service and serve their country in a special way -- a way that benefits all of us.

Our troops serve with honor. Today, we honor our troops.