Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, “a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” So many confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day, flooding social media with photos of their family and friends who have served in the military. You may have seen me on my soapbox, shouting to the void, “While it is appropriate to acknowledge and thank those who served, Memorial Day is not the day.”
THIS, Veterans Day, is their day!
Why November 11th? World War I, “the war to end all wars”, formally ended at the 11th
hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
On November 11, 1919, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson wrote “A year ago today our enemies
laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.”
He continued. “Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.
To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given
America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”
The war to end all wars. What a concept! Sadly, that is not the case. What is the case is that every single one of these brave women and men, some who volunteered, others who were drafted, were willing to give it all for this country. My brother-in-law was a Navy search and rescue pilot. When I thank him, he says he didn’t do anything to deserve thanks. My reply? “But you would have.”
We lived in the DFW Metroplex for about 20 years. The City of Fort Worth holds a Veterans Day parade each year with hundreds of former service members taking part. My dad was an Army officer; each year I would ask him if he was going to march and each year he’d lean back in his chair, grin, and tell me no, that he’d forgotten to take his dress blues to the cleaners. Side note: he’s buried in those “dirty” dress blues. They never made it to the cleaners.
Tomorrow maybe we should take a minute to remember the service men and women and do more than offer up a cursory “thank you”. Support them. Volunteer or donate to the Wounded Warrior Project. Remind your veterans that there is help available through the military crisis line. Urge your representatives at all levels to put veterans’ affairs at the top of their priorities and remind them anything less is unacceptable.
Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear dog tags.
Happy Veterans Day to all who served.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
This nation’s debt to you can never be repaid.