As we approach another Veterans Day, it is important to examine if we really honor our veterans on this national holiday? The answer would be YES for many; however, NO for a great deal more.
The history of Veterans Day documents the holiday as a celebration of the end of the Great War, more commonly known as World War I that officially came to an end on June 28, 1919. However, the war between the Allied nations and Germany, actually ended seven months prior when an armistice occurred at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the 11th month (November 11, 1918). Armistice Day became official in 1926, and was declared a national holiday in 1938.
In 1954, due to the urging of various veterans services organizations, the word Armistice was replaced with the word Veterans – thus Veterans Day replaced Armistice Day. On October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed Thursday, November 11th, 1954 as Veterans Day – a day for honoring all veterans. Despite the many roller-coaster rides throughout the years following Eisenhower’s regime regarding the date for the celebration, it was declared that the observance of Veteran’s Day would occur every November 11th focusing our attention on the true purpose of honoring America’s veterans – willingness to serve, sacrifice, and the love of country.
It should be understood that not all veterans who served in the military and made daily sacrifices to insure our freedom, received the honor they deserved upon returning to civilian life. Although many did, many were treated badly – even thought of as a disgrace by many by being spat upon or called murderers. Today, veterans from both historical and recent wars are suffering and fighting for their rightfully earned benefits resulting in suicides, broken marriages, physical disabilities, PTSD, and more.
Will the public ever understand what it truly means to serve our country in combat or the brotherhood that evolved from such an experience? Hopefully we have learned and will heed the words of John F. Kennedy who said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
The wounds have been slow to heal for many Veterans. They are not necessarily physical scars, but emotional ones that are a result of the experience of combat and separation from friends and family. Please don’t simply thank a Veteran for his service this Veterans Day, but show that you truly honor him or her by your everyday actions.