In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world celebrated a great victory over tyranny. After four years of untold bloodshed, a world war ended with the signing of an armistice. The "war to end all wars" was over, celebrated on November 11th, known as "Armistice Day." Interestingly, perhaps naively, we as a nation believed there would be no more war’s like the last.
It was simply called, "The World War." My grandfather and his brothers fought in Germany and France, and the discharge certificate makes no mention of a "I" to precede the next war's "II."
Two decades later, in 1938, Congress voted to make Armistice Day a federal holiday. Soon thereafter, we realized that the previous war would not be the last one. The Second World War began the following year. And still, after World War II ended, Armistice Day continued to be observed on November 11th. Ten years later, Congress passed a law renaming Armistice Day to Veterans' Day.
A Time to Reflect
There are a lot of emotions that come every Veterans Day.For me, it’s a time to reflect.
To reflect on all of the veterans throughout our nation’s history who have defended our great country—those who lived.Those who died. All fighting for our freedom.
I also reflect on how proud I am to be part of a fighting force that has fought so well, so consistently—often against insurmountable odds. With our nation's support, and sometimes without.
None of us fight for ribbons or medals, rank or monuments, but for one another—for our families, our friends…our country.
So, for me, Veteran’s Day is about honoring military service—those who have fought, lived and died: fromYorktown to Gettysburg to Verdun to Bastogneto Fallujah and Firebase Annaconda.
Whether they lived or died, all sacrificed. Many made the ultimate sacrifice--for you and I.
The question for all of us on this Veteran's Day, is “how can you honor our veterans' selfless service?”
We all look for ways to express our gratitude…our thanks.But ultimately the highest thanks we can convey is through conveying our support, not only in words, but in deeds.
A Time to Act
Here are a few simple ideas of things you can do now to honor our men and women who have served:
-Do you know a homeless veteran?Have you given himone of your spare coats?Have you helped serve food in a soup kitchen?
-Are you an employer?Do you go out of your way to help veteran’s find a job?And if they don't have the precise skills, will you help them gain those skills? Or help them find good employment?
-Have you donated to any of the many good foundations designed to help veterans, wounded warriors and their families? (Here's a good one to consider: http://www.specialops.org/ )
We tend to think that there is nothing more sacred than life. But without freedom, the truth is our lives are pretty meaningless.
Freedom, I've often said, is like Oxygen. You tend to only miss it when it's gone.
The best way we can honor our veterans and give real meaning to Veterans Day--aside from ceremonies, parades and speeches--is to live selflessly, not just with physical courage, but with moral courage and positive energy.And to dedicate ourselves to our Veterans, above all others.