Today is Veteran’s Day, which originally began as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1918.
Did you know that on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day in 1918 a temporary armistice was signed bringing an end to the hostilities of World War I?
President Woodrow Wilson designated Nov. 11 as “Armistice Day”, which led Congress in 1938 to pass legislation to declare it a national holiday, and in 1954 for President Eisenhower to change the name to Veteran’s Day.
Oddly enough, my first reflections on the sacrifice and service of veteran’s developed when I was 12 or 13 years old and read the book “All Quiet on the Western Front”, which was written by a German soldier about his experiences in WWI.
I had tears running down my cheeks as I read Erich Maria Remarque’s words, and it hit home that if a German soldier could feel this way, most likely any soldier could. It was the first time I really understood that war was not just about conflicts and countries, but about people and courage. Remarque became an American naturalized citizen in 1947.
I remember wanting to ask my Dad, my uncles and every other man their age, who served in WWII, what it was like. But, that was something people didn’t seem to talk about then, so I didn’t either.
When I turned 16 in 1969, and was confronted daily with news of Vietnam. I forgot about the perspective of Veteran’s and focused more on how I felt about war.
It took me years to sort-out my feelings about service in the military.
No matter where you stand on our involvement in conflicts and wars then and now, today is a good day to pause and reflect on how others feel. In particular, those who – for whatever reason – find themselves in situations that test every facet of their being in the service to others.
I truly think service to others is worth honoring, and I am glad that we have set aside a day to do just that.
There were almost 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in May of this year (2010). There are more than two million men and women enlisted in the armed forces and reserves. Most of us know someone or the family members of someone, who is currently serving or served in the past.
Find a way to let them know you are thinking of them today.