In the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allied nations and Germany. The United States and many other nations had been embroiled for years in a bitter battle against tyranny. This cessation of hostilities or the Treaty of Versailles would become known as the end of WWI or of the "war to end all wars." In 1938, November 11th, would be set aside as the legal federal holiday "Armistice Day". After the heavy toll taken on U.S. soldiers during WWII and the Korean War, an effort was made to amend the 1938 act to change the name to "Veteran's Day" in recognition of not only those WWI soldiers but also the multitudes who would later serve. President Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From that day forward, Veteran's Day became a time for the nation to come together in honor of her soldiers of all wars.
"From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots." -Thomas Jefferson
How true that is held in the light of our past and present wars. America's freedom has been purchased and maintained by the high price of the shed blood of her patriots. Of the 4,734,991 who served in World War I, 116,000 gave their lives and 200,000 were wounded. 16.1 million U.S. soldiers were in World War II, and of these 405,399 died with 671,846 wounded. The lesser known Korea War would see 5.7 million serving with 103,284 wounded and 54,246 deaths. Vietnam soldiers would total 8.7 million with those of the "some gave all" numbering 58,209 with 153,303 wounded. The Gulf War would see 2.2 million serving with 382 deaths and 467 wounded. The battle still rages in Iraq and Afghanistan with the death total approaching 6,000. According to the 2008 Census, there are 23.2 million living veterans with over 3.4 million with some form of service related disability. All these casualties bear witness to the terrible toll that war exacts. Freedom demands costly sacrifices from some so that all may continue to enjoy its privileges.
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."- George Orwell
Veteran's Day is a day set apart in which to celebrate these "rough" soldiers' love for country - a time for honoring them for their willing personal sacrifices while serving the common good. It is also a time to remember that though war is ugly there are things far worse to avoid for the soldier and civilian alike, such as: a toleration of tyranny in exchange for temporary safety, a comfort induced apathy causing a lack of support and exercise of freedoms, and an oversight and depreciation of the blood shed in securing and maintaining U.S. Constitutional freedoms. From past Revolutionary War days to the present day Middle East conflict, American soldiers and civilians alike shared and are to share in the burden of safekeeping freedom. "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." - John Stewart Mill
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." -Thomas Paine
November 11th, is a wonderful time to come together as a nation in honor of our vets, but let us not forget as civilians the other 364 days allotted to partake in freedom's burden. Year around, the American flag can be displayed in a place of prominence in the yard or even on a vehicle. Keeping informed about legislation, holding officials accountable for laws upholding the Constitution, and exercising the right to vote are essential year around as well. If you see a veteran while out, just say a simple, "Thank you." Patriotic and sweetheart jewelry can be worn to show love of country and esteem for our patriots. Son in Service flags hung from windows, and yellow ribbons wrapped around trees herald support. Programs are available for helping and encouraging our soldiers and their families left behind. Remembering to pray for those in harm's way is something civilians of any means can do at anytime. "Freedom isn't free" for we, civilians and soldiers alike, must share in safeguarding our Constitutional freedoms for our posterity.
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, And whose
coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protester to burn the flag." - Father Dennis Edward O'Brian
To the soldier...Thank You!