Now, the election is over and, once again, the airwaves are returning to normal. It seems that in every political contest this year, whether the office of dogcatcher, or that of President of the United States, it was a sparring contest to see who could be viewed as the most patriotic. Flags came out in abundance and even the states turned red and blue on the political map .
In their fervor to be elected, it would seem that politicians seemed to forget that we are all players on the same team. Soldiers fight for freedom for all of us without regard to which political party we support, or what church (if any) we attend, whether we are millionaires or living paycheck to paycheck, or even if we have no paycheck at all.
We are American’s every day and enjoy the freedom that was purchased with the lives of sons and daughters who fought to keep us that way. Yes, we should celebrate our freedom every day, but instead we honor our veterans twice a year—Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.
Two days. Think about that. Shouldn’t it be more like honoring veterans 363 days and maybe allowing ourselves to be totally selfish and forgetting them two days a year?
Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died in the service of our country, but Veteran’s Day is a day to show respect and honor all veterans. Originally known as Armistice Day, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month was to mark the end of World War I, the “war to end all wars.”
As we all know, the First World War was, unfortunately, not the end of all wars. In 1954, the holiday was changed to honor veterans of all wars. Then after a brief time when it was changed to coincide with a three-day weekend, it was returned to November 11 without regard to the day of the week.
Today is a time to turn our thoughts and gratitude toward those veterans who put their lives on the line and count our blessings for living in a country where our individual rights have been guaranteed by our veterans.
I don’t have to look far to see veterans to honor. I have nephews who previously and currently serve in the military. My dad fought in World War II, my brother Tommy was wounded in Vietnam, my brother Jimmy sailed into danger zones throughout his career in the Navy, and Jim’s tour of duty in Vietnam left him wounded in body and spirit.
During the World Wars and following the wars, veterans were hailed as heroes for offering up the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country. When the war was over, thousands of soldiers returned to parades and crowds of grateful Americans.
Things were pretty clear-cut until Vietnam. That war stirred up emotions during the turbulent Sixties that threatened to destroy the unity of our people. Veterans returning from the “conflict” were jubilantly greeted by their loved ones, but the nature of the war brought veterans home one-by-one. When Jim returned home from Vietnam, he was greeted by three people—his mom and dad, and me. That seems like a small reception for someone who just spent a year in the jungles of Vietnam experiencing atrocities that would haunt him even through the throes of dementia.
It takes a lot out of a country boy to have to kill other human beings. I thought the war was over for Jim when he came home. Instead, like many others who love a veteran, I eventually learned that the war would never be over for him. No one knew the pain in Jim’s heart the way I did.
On this eleventh day of the eleventh month, I would like to wish a happy Veteran’s Day to all who have served our country and to those who are serving our country now. Although today marks a special day for veterans, they deserve credit for every day of the year that we wake up in the United States of America.