Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

Aerial view of ruins of Vaux-devant-Damloup, France, 1918. (Source)
Veterans Day. Armistice Day. Remembrance Day.

The end of the "War to End All Wars," at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 the guns fell silent on the Western Front.

In the British Commonwealth (which isn't called that anymore, now it's the Commonwealth of Nations) the 11th of November is commemorated as Remembrance Day, a day to remember those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who died in the line of duty.

In New Zealand, France, Belgium and Serbia, the day is commemorated as Armistice Day, remembering that specific day when fighting ceased on the Western Front in World War I.

For much of the world this is not a day to be celebrated, it is a day for remembering the fallen.

Here, in these United States of America, the day is set aside to honor veterans of our military. Those who served honorably I might add. Not just war veterans but all who, at one time or another, swore the Oath and wore the uniform. Whether they saw combat in some foreign land or whether they served their whole tour Stateside, it's all the same on Veterans Day. This is their day.

Why don't we remember the fallen on this day, like all of the other English speaking countries? Well, we already have a day for that, Memorial Day. Which is in the spring. That day started as Decoration Day, a day to remember those who fell in the War Between the States (my preferred term, though I'll occasionally slip and call it the Civil War, to me the former is more accurate). So that's the day we remember our military dead.

Veterans Day is the day we celebrate all veterans.

It's not a day I personally celebrate. I'm a veteran and quite frankly I find it a little embarrassing to be thanked for my service. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure why I'm embarrassed. Perhaps because I enjoy the benefit of a retirement check. Perhaps because Uncle Sam paid for most of my college (both bachelor's and master's degrees). Perhaps because I had the opportunity to visit a number of places I would not have otherwise had the chance to visit. Perhaps because I had the opportunity to serve alongside some really excellent men and women.

Seems I've already reaped a number of benefits from my service. All from the American people. I don't feel the need to be thanked. I'd do it again without the thanks and probably without some of the benefits I've had over the years based upon my service.

When I'm thanked for my service, given the time and the opportunity, I like to respond with the following -
I want to thank you for paying me all those years. For providing me with uniforms, food to eat and a place to sleep. Thank you for the excellent equipment and the training I received to utilize that equipment. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve my country. I literally couldn't have done it without you and those like you. The American people, the taxpayers who make it all possible.
On Veterans Day I prefer to remember all of those who served. Whether they were killed in action or lived to a ripe old age after a long and happy life. They paved the way for the rest of us.

To the real Americans out there, those who go to work every day for a paycheck. Those who are raising kids and trying to bring them up to be good citizens. Those who know the value of family, worship, hard work and love of country. I'd just like to say...

Thank you!

"US Flag Backlit" by Jnn13 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Source)

22 comments:

  1. Yes! This touches on so many important ideas. My guy, too, feels slightly embarrassed to be thanked for his service. Hello--they gave him jets to fly!!! He never flew in combat, either, though many of our friends did.

    However, he fulfilled his oath with honor and training is dangerous--more dangerous than combat, in aircraft at least.

    And you, also, fulfilled your oath. So, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couldn't have done it without the folks at home.

      Thanks.

      Delete
  2. When someone thanks me, I try to remember to say, "Thank you" in return.
    I really appreciate the gesture.


    Thanks for pointing out the difference between, Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
    I kinda wish more folks understood it.
    Now if we could only get more recognition for Armed Forces Day...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to do more research on Armed Forces Day. I tend to ignore the day.

      Delete
    2. Same here, I'll see it on the calendar, usually a week later.

      Delete
  3. As they say in Fury "Best job I ever had." A vet of the Cold War. Lucky I guess to be between wars, A war in most cases where stares were the only thing shot back and forth. I feel humbled to be in the presents of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the latest string of 'War against..." vets. I went to Desert Shield/Storm but we Amphibs were just a threat General Schwarzkopf had in his hip pocket. Never in my career did I feel in real danger. Maybe I was just stupid. But, I was ready and willing to do whatever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oddly enough my service in Korea qualifies me for membership in the VFW. Never felt threatened there, unless it was from The Missus Herself for staying out too late.

      Not saying that that happened, not saying that it didn't.

      A guy that worked for me in Omaha and I (both former flight line knuckle draggers) volunteered to go to Saudi for Desert Storm.

      "And do what?" asked our lieutenant.

      "We'll find something to make ourselves useful" we both exclaimed.

      "Go back to your desks you morons." sayeth the lieutenant.

      Proof that sometimes lieutenants are smarter than sergeants. (Of course, our LT was prior enlisted, so maybe that doesn't count.)

      Delete
  4. Good blog and from the heart. You mentioned Remembrance Day, I got an e-mail from a friend who was in London at the
    airport when the loudspeakers came on and asked everyone for a few moments of silence in honor of all the veterans. He
    said everything at the airport literally came to a standstill and he said there was absolute silence while they played what
    he assumed was their equivalent of Taps. They obviously value their veterans in England!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. More than likely what he heard was "The Last Post," our cousins' version of Taps.

      One thing about England (and by extension the UK in general), their traditions are ancient and (for the most part) respected.

      Thanks Russ.

      Delete
  5. When I was a kid in probably third grade, reading about WWI for the first time, I thought they should have started the war in 1907 so it could end on 11-11-11-11. I didn't really understand the whole war scheduling thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Odd you should mention that.

      Just today I had that same thought.

      So mentally I'm still in the third grade.

      Sounds about right...

      Delete
  6. For some reason, and I don't know what that reason was, what i wrote earlier didn't get posted. To recap I said that you should never be embarrassed when anyone says Thank You for your service. You did serve your country. You deserve to be thanked for your service. However you served, it was for the betterment of our country. You and your family are blessed. You are blessed to be alive to tell your story, a privilege not afforded to all. I say "Thank You for your service." I say "Thank You for your family's service". God Bless. xo Vicki

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Sometimes Blogger will decide, for no apparent reason, to eat a comment.

      Thanks Vicki, I get the "thank you" thing but it just seems odd getting thanked for something I loved doing. And getting paid for it.

      But I appreciate the thanks. Oh yeah, congratulations to you! Quite a big deal.

      Delete
  7. My thoughts about Veterans Day align with yours. I served three years in the Army and was stationed in Germany. Got to see a bit of the world, got three hots, a cot, and a stipend. Don't feel any of my fellow citizens owe me anything including a thank you. Who I thank is my youngest son who sacrificed his long term health serving, and all the others like him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, for me the thanks should go to those who suffered, who really sacrificed.

      Delete
  8. To say that shipboard WiFi is spotty does disservice to Spots everywhere. Finally poached some free WiFi in a bar in Bay of Islands. Cruise ends tomorrow, still haven't made up my mind if I'm coming home. Think New Zealand is Maori for 50 million shades of Vibrant Green! That having been said...
    The 11th was a day at sea on the cruise. The ship's staff did an outstanding presentation. The Aussie Cruise Director called all the Veterans forward and then gave a short speech on the History of the Day and it's meaning in the Commonwealth. The Canadian Bar Director read "In Flander's Field" and a New Zealander played Last Post on the Trumpet. The cruise director then called for a moment of silence and the only sound you could hear on the ship was Sea and Wind. Then the Ship sounded it's horn. Very moving ceremony.
    Tomorrow its Planes, Trains and Automobiles and back in the saddle again. Have a great weekend all.

    ReplyDelete
  9. To say that shipboard WiFi is spotty does disservice to Spots everywhere. Finally poached some free WiFi in a bar in Bay of Islands. Cruise ends tomorrow, still haven't made up my mind if I'm coming home. Think New Zealand is Maori for 50 million shades of Vibrant Green! That having been said...
    The 11th was a day at sea on the cruise. The ship's staff did an outstanding presentation. The Aussie Cruise Director called all the Veterans forward and then gave a short speech on the History of the Day and it's meaning in the Commonwealth. The Canadian Bar Director read "In Flander's Field" and a New Zealander played Last Post on the Trumpet. The cruise director then called for a moment of silence and the only sound you could hear on the ship was Sea and Wind. Then the Ship sounded it's horn. Very moving ceremony.
    Tomorrow its Planes, Trains and Automobiles and back in the saddle again. Have a great weekend all.

    ReplyDelete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)