Those of you with history in my blog know in advance this is not going to be a funny post. Far from it: this entry is to ensure you all don’t miss the significance of today beyond the really serendipetous arrangement of the digit “1” when representing the date. Equally pleasing is the idea that all of our foreign friends can probably also tangentially enjoy the meaning of the day in some way.
Today is Veterans Day. The holiday started as Armistice Day, and commemorated the end of World War I. The date of the observance was selected to reflect the official time of the end of what was called “The War to End All Wars”: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. At the time, the world was reeling in shock at the aftermath of the marriage of the industrial revolution and modern warfare. Here in 2011, we know too well the result of the intent to have WW I be the final World War.
Interestingly, WW I was not the highest casualty-producing war for our country. That record rested with the Civil War in 1918 and still stands today.* America also got off quite light in that war by comparison. England, France, and Germany (and others) lost a virtual generation of men in a few short, violent years. President Wilson initiated the notion of a commemorative holiday to mark the history, and on June 4, 1926 Congress made the holiday official, with the President issuing the desired proclamation. Later, it officially became Armistice Day and an official US holiday in 1938, and then Veterans Day under President Eisenhower in 1954 to more broadly include those serving in World War II and Korea.
If you are reading this and are an American, you may be asking yourself what you ought to do for this holiday. Each year the holiday is marked by a ceremony in Arlington, Virginia that is highlighted by the President placing a wreath on the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. I would encourage you to watch this. I would also ask you to please fly your flag today to honor the men and women who paid for your freedom with their lives because they died for the flag and were buried under the flag. Though the holiday began to honor those of WW I, it now spans all of those who served and the approximately 1.34 million buried around the world who died in your service.
If you are very curious turn your web browser of choice to these terms: Lexington and Concord, Gettysburg, Fredricksburg, San Juan Hill, Belleau Wood, Normandy, Bastogne, Midway, Leyte, Chosin Reservoir, Ia Drang Valley, Mogadishu, and Fallujah. If you’re getting odd results, add the term “Battle of” to each. There are many, many more. These merely serve as highlights. The point to gain is the fact that the soil all over the world is soaked in the blood of American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. It was shed for the notion that their individual lives were less valuable than the well-being of all our loved ones at home, and that our way of freedom-loving life is worth dying for.
One final thing I will say here is probably most important, at least to me. Today I’d appreciate it if you not hit the comment button to thank me. Rest assured I will continue to serve whether I get thanks or not; this is not about me. What I would like you to do – if possible – is get out of the house today. Go find an old veteran, one with gray or white hair, or maybe a salt-and-pepper rebel ponytail. Look for the small, modest lapel pin of a decoration, or the plain but proud ballcap stating one’s Veteran status. They hang out at VFW’s and American Legion halls. Walk up and shake their hand, make sure you look them in the eye, give them a firm grip, and thank them for serving.
Thank those Veterans because without their past service, I would have nothing to defend today.
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
- * Both combat and non-combat deaths considered. See this Wiki for more detail.
- See the Veterans Administration site for more details on this holiday.
Thank you, Mark Pakula (The Idiot) and GraysonJack (angry rant)