Good afternoon Columbus. Battle scars, our gratitude and stories you should never forget. Here’s what you need to know today.

Greetings from The Republic newsroom:

Getting veterans to talk about their time in war zones is not easy. The scars, both inward and outward, can take years to heal, if they ever do.

The passing of time makes some more willing to talk about their experiences, and for that we are grateful.

In Thursday’s Republic, area veterans are sharing their important stories with you.

Our special SALUTE! section coincides with Friday’s patriotic concert on the lawn of the Bartholomew County Courthouse. The theme is the Vietnam War.

The stories these veterans tell are powerful.

You’ll meet Andrew To Son.

Andrew To Son Salute Vietnam

Assistant managing editor Kirk Johannesen, who coordinated our special coverage, interviewed Son and writes:

A Columbus restaurant owner’s experience with the Vietnam War is similar to those of other local residents in that he was called upon to fight the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong. The difference is that he did so as part of South Vietnam’s army.

Andrew To Son rarely speaks of his war experiences. The owner of Mark Pi’s China Gate in Fair Oaks Mall prefers to focus on the present and future, such as his business and family. However, the memories of dangerous missions and seeing friends die during the later stage of the war remain vivid.

We’ll introduce you to Steve Brown, who came back to Columbus after the war and got into the insurance business.

Vietnam Veteran Steve Brown at his home Sunday, May 1, 2016. Carla Clark | For The Republic

Reporter Barney Quick writes: Over 40 years later, there are only certain aspects of Steve Brown’s three tours of Vietnam that he can talk about. Early on in his military service, he began demonstrating skill sets of a nature that his superiors saw specialized, clandestine uses for. What he can discuss for the record is replete with adventures, colorful characters and mortal danger.

Cecelia Ellis talked with Patrick Woods “Woody” Harrison, a Columbus lawyer for 43 years.

 Patrick Woods “Woody” Harrison Salute Vietnam

She writes: As it did for thousands of others, the Vietnam War left a lasting emotional scar on Patrick Woods “Woody” Harrison. He was drafted into a war he didn’t believe in, participated in one of its most gruesome battles and suffered emotionally for years.

The stories these veterans tell command our attention, and you’ll find more in Thursday’s Republic.

We owe it to them to listen, really listen, to what they experienced. We owe it to them to learn lessons from their time in war zones and when they returned to the home front. And we owe it to them to genuinely and forever show our appreciation for their sacrifices, their service and their valor.

Here’s what else we are working on:

Can’t stop humming “Saturday in The Park” today. Wonder why?
He’s a Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter, and he’s headlining the 30th annual free Labor Day weekend concert at Mill Race Park.

No more blackout: We’re going to have to change our race routines.
Many a Hoosier has spent the day before Memorial Day listening to the Indy 500 on the radio and then watching the race in the evening. This tweet came this morning:

Gregg picks a running mate.
Democrat John Gregg, who wants to unseat Mike Pence as governor, makes his choice. Click here.

School district makes gender identity change.
This story out of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. is still getting lots of online interest. Click here.

Fun things for you to do.
We’ll have our usual long list of cool events and activities to keep you busy this Memorial Day weekend and beyond. And you know it’s a good sign when Donner Aquatic Center is getting ready to open for the summer. We’ve got all the wet and wonderful details.

We want your story ideas. Click here to send them our way.

Have a great day!