What Veteran’s Day means to me

This Veteran’s Day is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. A year later, President Wilson recognized this historic day with these words:

“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 the nations…”

Originally intended to recognize and honor the Veterans of WWI, Armistice Day was made an official national holiday, and renamed Veterans Day to include the veterans of WWII and Korea, and ultimately all the men and women who serve and have served in defense of our country and way of life.

A veteran has a bond with other veterans. We know the sacrifices that were made, the family separations, the hardships. But it was a mutual support, and in many cases lifelong friendships of fellow veterans that dominate our memories.

Veterans are a diverse group: some tell tales of their time in service (which seem to get better as time passes), others simply let memories fade. Some are damaged physically, but their ‘can’t keep me down’ attitude is an inspiration for many, others feel broken and helpless. Some live perfectly normal lives, ; others are plagued with haunting thoughts and dreams.

I would do it all over again, with more enthusiasm and determination … and eliminate some of the bone-headed things I did.

“Thank you for your service” is a nice tribute when one learns he’s speaking with a veteran; it’s a swing of the pendulum from the Viet Nam era.

So, on Veterans Day I think of the men and women who stood in harm’s way to protect family, friends and people they will never meet. I think of those who love our way of life and are willing to make the supreme sacrifice, if necessary, to preserve it.

You say “Thank you for your Service,” I say “Thank you for remembering.”

The Olney Enterprise

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