Every Day Should Honor These Selfless Servants
Tomorrow we celebrate, or take pause to remember, this nation’s great veterans. In fact, quite honestly there is no more important occasion, for American’s than this “holiday,” yes even more important than the fourth of July. It is because of these veterans that July 4th was even able to happen, and it is most certainly because of these veterans, that we still have a country, where we live in freedom and prosperity, with limitless opportunities.
We “celebrate” this day as a reminder of the cost of freedom. First “officially” celebrated on November 11, 1938, it was originally called “Armistice Day” in celebration of the moment the war to end all wars, World War I, came to an end. The armistice of that war was signed by all waring countries on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918, thus November 11 is the appropriate day to honor these noble warriors.
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
Every Veterans Day and Memorial Day, Arlington National Cemetery holds an annual memorial service. The cemetery is home to the graves of over 400,000 people, most of whom served in the military.
The military men and women who serve and protect the United States come from all walks of life; they are parents, children, grandparents, friends, neighbors and coworkers, and are an important part of their communities. Here are some facts about the veteran population of the United States:
· 19 million living veterans served during at least one war as of April 2021.
· 11 percent of veterans are women.
· 5.9 million veterans served during the Vietnam War.
· 7.8 million veterans served in the Gulf War era.
· Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, about 240,000 were still alive as of 2021.
· 933,000 veterans served during the Korean War.
Aside from all the statistics, it is a sad testament to our country and its citizens, that most students are no longer taught about what it cost to form this country, keep it free, and defend our way of life. Sure, they are taught the basics; what is the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, roughly one day about each major war or conflict, and that’s about it. Add to it that any person under the age of 50 has never been alive to experience a true war. (Viet Nam ended 4/30/1975 – ages 0-4, at that time, would not have any memory of Viet Nam)
This glaring absence of educational importance, especially for future adult citizens of our country, clearly has contributed to much of the lack of love, appreciation, commitment, and respect, our country suffers from today. It’s a shame that war and the risk of life for all, and the final calling for many, is the key reason and driver for some to truly appreciate and embrace the cost of freedom. Those few who have been touched by Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, and other minor conflicts, understand the sacrifice, but many of our younger folks do not. Thanks to superior USA Military technology, the number of veterans needed to fight the afore mentioned conflicts was very low and thus did not have to impact as many lives, as the major wars, like The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, which in total cost nearly 2 million Americans their lives (1,947,665); lest not we forget the unmeasurable impact on their families and friends.
The commitment, sacrifice, and totally disrupted lives of our service men and women, their families, and close friends, are constant reminders to us of what freedom costs, and we MUST be forever in their debts for the service they gave, and still give, our country. In fact, their service is so absolutely critical and essential, that I feel a giant screen Television should be installed in the chambers of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, continually broadcasting a live feed of the thousands of grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery. To serve as a constant reminder, when they consider, debate, and pass laws, of the monumental cost of freedom and their ability to legislate on behalf of their constituents, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. They should be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance to begin every session, and they should be constantly seeing those graves in the background as they work…every moment, of every day. Because it is those sacrifices that give them the privilege of representing the American people.
At the end of this message, I’m going to post six quotes about the end of WWI, the war which prompted this day of remembrance. I will also post the message President Woodrow Wilson sent to the American people, exactly one year after the end of World War I, the “Great” War to end all wars. This message became the first such presidential communication concerning this revered day. Please take a few minutes to read this as it states how the president and the country felt, one year after the “greatest” war…. These quotes and this message, still resonate today.
Today, thanks largely in part to our veterans, America remains more free, more innovative, and the most prosperous country in the history of the world. We are a nation of unparalleled military power and unlimited opportunity…. Yes, unlimited OPPORTUNITY.
The men and women who flew those fighters and bombers over our country during the various sporting events, and military flyovers, during the pandemic, in order to give strength to and reassure our citizens, these are the people who make it all possible. The men and women who rush into conflict, quickly volunteer to help through tragedy’s, hurricanes, and tornados. Many of these patriots are scarred physically and mentally yet most would sign up to do it all over again, even knowing the risk and the outcome that was their lives. They provide the critical foundation of peace and security upon which our freedom, and the freedom of all the world’s democracies, is built. Presidents Trump, Reagan, and both Bush’s, were right to shine a spotlight on our men and women in uniform and to remind those who have lost sight of it, that the United States is simply the greatest nation on Earth; most certainly due to our veterans and their families and friends. I am so very proud to be an American and nearly every feeling of pride, respect, and reverence, exists because I have freedom and opportunity…all thanks to our great veterans. God Bless each and every veteran who has served, is serving, and who willingly gave the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us who are proud to call this country our home!!!
I invite you to take a few minutes and read these quotes, and presidential message, which commemorate the end to World War I:
“Once lead [the American] people into war and they will forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance.”
Woodrow Wilson, US president, April 1917
“With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight on to the end.”
General Sir Douglas Haig, British commander, April 1918
“No compromise on the main purpose. No peace till victory. No pact with unrepentant wrong. That is the Declaration of July 4th 1918.
Winston Churchill, July 1918
“At eleven o’clock this morning came to an end the cruellest and most terrible War that has ever scourged mankind. I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars.”
David Lloyd George, British prime minister, November 11th 1918
“Yesterday I visited the battlefield of last year. The place was scarcely recognisable. Instead of a wilderness of ground torn up by shell, the ground was a garden of wild flowers and tall grasses. Most remarkable of all was the appearance of many thousands of white butterflies which fluttered around. It was as if the souls of the dead soldiers had come to haunt the spot where so many fell. It was eerie to see them. And the silence! It was so still that I could almost hear the beat of the butterflies’ wings.”
Unnamed British officer, 1919
“The First World War killed fewer victims than the Second World War, destroyed fewer buildings, and uprooted millions instead of tens of millions – but in many ways it left even deeper scars both on the mind and on the map of Europe. The old world never recovered from the shock.”
Edmund Taylor, historian
On November 11, 1919, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day, in which he expressed what he felt the day meant to Americans:
ADDRESS TO FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN
The White House, November 11, 1919.
A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.
With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.
Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.
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 nations.