From the History website: “Veterans Day originated as *’Armistice Day’ on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.”
My grandfather was in WW1 and my dad was in WW11. They, like so many others of their age, did not talk about their experiences in the wars. Men of those eras buttoned up their feelings about what they saw and what they had to do. The one thing my dad told me was how to erase the mind of bad things; he said to just think of it so often that it finally loses its power to hurt.
This is what I think of when I see those old and brave men sitting silently together at the local Rotary Club. They don’t say much, but you can see on their faces that some experiences never quite go away.
My step daughter is a West Point graduate, and currently serves as a US Army Reservist with US Pacific Command. She has deployed in support of the Global War on Terror five times in her 14-year career. I am, and always will be, proud of her and grateful for her service.
A dear friend of mine was married to a man who was part of the unit that went into the German death camps to liberate those who were still there. She told me that she had married a laughing and loving boy, and when he came home he was a different person. Oh, he still could tell jokes and laugh and he certainly loved his wife and children with all his heart. But that careless, happy-go-lucky boyishness was gone for good.
On this day of honoring all of those who gave life and limb for their country, let us remember that the freedoms we have did not come easily. They were paid for in blood and sacrifice. When you see a veteran today, please shake his or her hand and thank them for their service. At the very least we owe them our heartfelt thanks.
*From Webster’s Dictionary: definition of Armistice: a temporary stopping of open acts of warfare by agreement between the opponents: TRUCE.