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.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thank you, Mark Pakula (The Idiot) and GraysonJack (angry rant)


50 Responses to “11.11.11”

  1. […] & Spoonerisms (Judith) * 11.11.11 (Little Miss Vix) * 11.11.11 (Laughing Housewife) * 11.11.11 (BrainRants) Advertisement Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on […]

  2. I’m not thanking you. I just want to say that U.S. soldiers are awesome…

  3. savorthefolly Says:

    Now that I’m a mother I appreciate so much more the sacrifices our soldiers have made on our behalf. I’ve been thinking for a few minutes of any veterans I know and remembered that our neighbor down the road Phil is a Vietnam vet. My children are in school right now but later this afternoon I will take them over to his place so that we can all thank him. I know that will mean a lot to him and his wife. The honest truth is that I don’t always agree with our government about when to use our armed forces, but I feel very strongly that that is a completely seperate issues from honoring and thanking our veterans for their service – and teaching our children to do the same.

    Brainrants I won’t thank you if you don’t want me to, but I feel the richer and the wiser for knowing you, and for that I am grateful and thankful.

  4. I won’t thank you for serving but I would like to thank you for reminding me that my father was a great man way before he was my dad and that I am blessed with a multitude of freedoms due to his strength and honor and those who served and still do today.

  5. Eloquently put. I’m not going to wait until later to thank you. Thank you for carrying the torch lit by others before you, to protect my freedom to defy your request not to thank you.

  6. Don’t worry, I have the opportunity to thank veterans on a nearly daily basis, and I have done so.

  7. I do believe your sincerity when you say this is not about you; but you didn’t say I couldn’t “Thank you” for reminding us to thank our older veterans. We have family & neighbors that are easily remembered, but I am sure there are many that must feel forgotten. Many of us, myself included, have no idea the real debt we owe to those who fought for everything we have!

  8. I didn’t realize the significance of 11.11.11. So you taught me something new.

    Today I attended a Veteran’s Day Assembly at my son’s school and as always I teared up, being a Navy Brat and all. But what amazed me was the respect our children showed the veterans and the cheers for them as well as the moment of silence for those lost. You wouldn’t think 200+ children would be silent but they were. I think it is important to pass that on to our children.

  9. Rachel Smith Says:

    This actually made me tear up a bit. I may be a huge sap, but I have also known, loved, and even lost many soldiers that I am forever grateful to. I will be thanking them over and over today, and every day after.

  10. Ok, i wont thank you, but your post was still very nice.

  11. John Erickson Says:

    I know you won’t forget them, but I’d add a couple of (admittedly) specifically Marine interest – Lebanon, and Tripoli. The former where our soldiers died, trying to keep peace, without the ability to fight the foe that slaughtered them. The latter, immortialised in the Marine Corps hymn, where American blood was first sacrificed overseas to protect the interests of the US. Though particular to the Marine Corps, they serve as reminders that there are US servicemen and women all over the world, be it Korea or Okinawa, Germany or Canada, or any of the seven seas, serving to protect us, and far too unfortunately making the ultimate sacrifice, all for us here at home.
    That’s why I fly my flag EVERY day. And I will do so, until every last one of those brave folk have returned home to their families, safe and sound.
    I’ve already said “Thank You” elsewhere, my friend, so I’ll simply say this. It is my great honour to know you, and I am humbled that you call me “friend”. 🙂

  12. Well I’m going to thank you … not for your service (though I am grateful to everyone willing to serve) but for such an eloquent reminder. I find it a bit sad that so many people need a holiday to remind them that there are a lot of really good people who’ve died so we can have what we do here in the US. And sadder still that there are people living in the US who don’t understand what this day is about. I don’t wait for Veteran’s Day to thank the men and women I meet for their service … it should be the first words from our mouths when meeting a veteran regardless of the day. So thank you Matt, for your great post! *hugs*

    • Thanks for the digital hugs, and for your kind words. You’re right about your thoughts, but I never let that influence my desire to keep standing on the far edge of the world for freedom.

  13. You dated the Civil War in the wrong century, but I still heard the message loud and clear. Semper Fi, or Hoorah, or whatever term of respect and admiration you, and they deserve.

    My dad was in the Canadian Armed Forces in WW II. Damp ocean air and shell smoke medicaled him out before he got overseas, but I still am proud of him and all the others who did what they could, when it was needed.

    I’ve been wearing my poppy for over a week, and I wore it today. It’s been specially modified so that it does not carelessly fall out and become fouled like the dozens I see on the ground.

    (SALUTE!) Well done, soldier. Carry on.

  14. I told my daughter’s Principal, former Green Beret Mr. Richard Dunning that you said, “Thank you.” I thought you’d approve.

  15. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    Sorry – still would like to say Thank You… (you were the first person I thought about this morning when I went to work) – Fly my 2 flags EVERYDAY!!

  16. Thanks for this post. I linked to it in my post today.

  17. I have a surrogate grand parent who’s still alive and tells me some horrid stories about war. I never thought we’d have anything in common but we do. It is the poem “Dulce et. Decorum Est.” By Wilfred Owen. While I love it because of its beautifully written meter, he loves it because it aptly describes the wounds of PTSD.

    This is a great post, because for many, they relive their battles all over again when they sleep. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like. And for this reason, we should be grateful for their sacrifices every chance we have.

  18. Very well said, sir! I most definitely think that in people’s busy lives they forget to stop and recognize what these holidays are really about. A day off of work, one less day to run to the bank…

    When I was driving home today I saw a man walking back and forth across the same cross walk, in the middle of rush hour traffic, holding a flag. Forcing people to stop for a moment and remember.

    Thank you for making people stop for a moment to remember.

  19. Nice article! Enjoyed it very much.

  20. As the Rangers said in Mog in ’93, “Leave no man behind.” But what separates the men from the boys is not just saying something, it’s actually doing it. and they risked their lives to save their brothers’.

    That is fucking heroic.

  21. Well, since I’m reading this almost a week later, I can say thank you for both your service and this lovely post. I know many vets, mostly Vietnam and a couple of Korean & WWII, and I appreciate you asking people to thank older vets.

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