Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Eleventh Day of This Month has Special Meaning

Veteran's Day is today. Originally called Armistice Day- and called that by my Grandmother until the day she died- originally it was set to commemorate the end of The War to End All Wars. World War One ended at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918.

Veteran’s Day was not moved to create a 3 day week end, like so many other Federal Holidays were because of that connection to a specific date. After the second War to End All Wars the day was renamed to commemorate all veterans. Most schools will be in session tomorrow, and unless you work for the government or a bank, you’ll be going to work. Probably one of our least celebrated holidays; unless you sell mattresses or used cars.

And that’s a shame.

It was the Veterans of the Revolutionary War who earned our Freedoms initially; The Veterans of the War of 1812 who secured them. The Veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic kept the country whole in the Civil War, and it was the Doughboys of WWI and the GIs of WWII who fought back the forces that would have made it harder to keep our freedoms.

Countless battles of the Cold War were fought on all corners of the globe; Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and the Cuban Missile Crisis, plus the years on watch in Europe and Japan preventing an attack. Veterans all.

Over the last 240 some years men and women of all backgrounds all raised their right hands and took the same oath I did to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.

Yes, I am a Veteran (Air Force 70’s and 80’s). So was my Dad (Navy in the 50’s) both my granddads (Paternal was a Marine who fought in the Philippines 1916- 1918; Maternal was Army in Europe for the same period) several uncles (Army in Vietnam; Navy and Air Corps in WWII); an aunt (WWII WACS) and a Great- Great Grandfather fought with the Confederacy in the Civil War. So far none of my sons have volunteered, but I do have a neighbor who is a Marine, preparing to go overseas. So I have a stake in today.

But I’m torn. Memorial Day we celebrate our fallen comrades and family; today should be for the veterans who are still with us. The trouble is I don’t know a single vet who wants praise for their service. Recognition that we have served and sacrificed for our country, but we were just doing our jobs; you don’t earn praise for doing what’s expected of you. Praise is for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Thanks we’ll accept. Recognize that we have done our best to keep the country as free as it was when our predecessors handed the duty off to us. Shake our hands and buy us a beer.

Sometime today, take a minute to Thank a Veteran.

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