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They fought our wars for us — the unfashionable wars, the dirty, muddy, bloody wars, the wars that seemed to go on forever, the wars fought in  strange places thousands of miles from Montana.

They didn't ask why, or pause to consider the reasons. They simply fought for their country. They did their best to keep their comrades in arms safe, to protect the rest of us from the realities of war, and to win the day on the battlefield. They distinguished themselves with their determination and their bravery. Then they came home to southwest Montana and the people they were fighting for. And we are lucky to have them among us.

Starting this Memorial Day and ending the week of Veterans Day, we will feature a vignette each week about a veteran in our midst. The first one will be published tomorrow; another will run each week for 25 weeks.

In Montana, nearly one in 10 of our residents are veterans — more than we could ever honor individually. But by paying special homage to these 25 between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, The Montana Standard's intention is to honor all of our state's veterans for their service, to us and to the country.

It seems fitting to us to start our Stories of Honor with Mike Lawson, a decorated Vietnam veteran who has dedicated his life to veterans affairs. The Marine Sergeant earned a bronze star with a combat "V", but his service didn't stop with his heroism during the war.

He has contributed for many years as a driver for the Disabled American Veterans; as commandant of the local and state Marine Corps League; as vice commander of the American Legion Post #1; and in many other ways. Watch in Monday's edition of The Montana Standard for the first Story of Honor, featuring Lawson.

Lawson said he is "humbled to say the least" to be the first in The Montana Standard's Stories of Honor series.

"Recognizing different veterans from now to Veterans Day is hopefully a way for people to realize the commitment/sacrifice to our country veterans have made and continue to make within their communities," Lawson said last week.

"The patriotism we the veterans learned and embraced from boot camp on through our military career didn’t stop upon our discharge but continues to the day we’re laid to rest and join our brothers and sisters who have gone before us," he added. "Our motto, for many of us, is 'to serve is to give back' to our brother/sister veterans, our communities and ultimately our country. It’s an honor for us to do so."

We understand the enormous debt of gratitude we owe our veterans, both living and dead. Please join us in honoring them — on this Memorial Day, on Veterans Day, and on each week in between. We hope you enjoy these quick glances at the lives and accomplishments of the 25, and that they remind us all of just how much we do owe them.

And if you, too, are a veteran, we thank you sincerely for your service.

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