Veterans Day 2013
A rare American family is without its share of veterans. In fact, when thinking about my own friends and colleagues, I can think of none who do not have a veteran. My own family is full of veterans from World War II all the way to the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They, and so many other veterans, sacrificed much for their efforts including time away from loved ones, their educations, their health, and in many cases even their lives. That is why today is such an important day. Today we remember veterans.
Every year, on November 11th, Americans honor, thank, love, and support their veterans. As Holiday Insight explains, “Veterans Day honors all members of the Armed Forces who who served this country valiantly, and in a very big way. They served and fought to protect us, to keep our country safe, and to preserve our way of life. Veterans gave their time, and risked their lives for you and me. In some cases, they made the ultimate sacrifice.” So November 11th is a day for them.
Holiday Insights also tells that the history of Veterans Day shows that it started out being called Armistice Day back in 1921 because at 11:11 on November 11, 1921, “the US, France, and England each buried an unknown soldier in honor of those who died in World War I. This began the annual Armistice Day holiday. The time and day was picked because fighting ceased in WWI in 1918 on November 11 at 11:11. In keeping with this tradition, work stops on this day and time each year for a moment of silence.”
However, in 1954, President Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day. Today we still honor the moment of silence at 11:11, but in addition we honor our veterans who served and died from all wars. This is an important day for all of us regardless of our positions on war. Today is about people not about violence. Today is about honoring those who protected, sacrificed, and helped not a day to protest the injustices of war. There are plenty of opportunities for protest otherwise. Today is about remembering, learning, and growing.
In a time when war is constantly at the forefront of the news media, when any move toward conflict brings debate and friction, Veterans Day comes to remind us that war is not just an inanimate object. War is about people. We often forget that in the rhetoric of the discussion.
And it is an important discussion. For full disclosures sake, I do not like war. I do not like violence. I do like veterans because I understand that veterans are not war. Veterans are people who chose to act, to do something that they thought would help. Sure, some join the military for suspect or selfish reasons, but these participants are a minority. And I would venture to guess that once they experience war, they reconsider the importance of their actions.
So, today take a step back from that ongoing family argument and just thank a veteran for their service and sacrifice. Ask them what they learned about war and what they learned about life. Ask them over for coffee or take them out to dinner. Heck, many restaurants and eateries offer free meals to veterans on Veterans Day, so encourage your friends, family, and coworkers who are veterans to take advantage of this honor and go with them. Let’s remind our veterans why they did what they. Perhaps someday war will be a memory in history, but until then let’s remind ourselves why honoring veterans is important.
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