|Aerial view of ruins of Vaux-devant-Damloup, France, 1918. (Source)|
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...
|"US Flag Backlit" by Jnn13 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Source)|