November 11, 2008

Profound Thanks

In case you didn't know what today is, and how couldn't you?, it's Veteran's Day. Or if you are not American, Armistice Day. Being the daughter of a career military man and the pseudo-step daughter of a Vietnam veteran, today has a very special place in my heart. A parade goes by my office each year and I watch from my desk and wave to the participants. I get teary with every passing veteran. I can't thank them enough for their service.

I've previously posted about how I think our government treats these brave men and women poorly and with terrible disrespect. It's disgusting. I just don't understand how the government turns a blind eye to the men and women who put their lives, and their loved ones' lives for that matter, on hold to serve their country in an unjust war with purely political motives. These brave men and women deserve better from the nation they've served.

That being said, here are some interesting facts about Veteran's/Armistice Day:

-Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.

-While Nov. 11th is the official date to mark the end of the war reflecting the cease fire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire.

-U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 12, 1919.

-November 11th was designated a federal and state holiday on May 13, 1938.

-In 1953, a shoe store owner named Al King had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954. Congress amended this act on November 8, 1954, replacing "Armistice" with Veterans, and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

-It is known as National Independence Day in Poland, Remembrance Day or Poppy Day in the British Commonwealth of Nations and also as the Day of Peace in The Flanders Fields.

-For Anglican and Roman Catholics, there is a coincidental overlap of Armistice Day with the feast of St. Martin of Tours, a saint famous for putting aside his life as a soldier and turning to the peaceful life of a monk.

1 comment:

dad said...

Thank you for the wonderful tribute to veterans. The youngest of the WW II vets would be 80 years old now, most not able to get around so easily due to tough earlier years. Korean War Vets are in their 70's, maybe a little better off having had more time with better healthcare. Youngest Viet Nam vets are in their mid 50's and we know a lot more about their mental stresses, and it is now obvious the previous vets also faced PTSD and adjustment problems without wide general awareness. Now, 18 year old soldiers, men and women, are dying or coming home maimed. The point is made, in one lifespan our country had 4 major conflicts--and possibly it will always be so. Whether drafted or volunteer, a portion of our nation has always paid the price for the majority. You could not be there for my retirement, though you were in my heart and thoughts. I wish it was filmed but was not; here was the high point for me: it was a completely unexpected moment when I realized how grateful I was for the other people in the room, most of whom were in uniform. Suddenly, the most important thing, the thing that absolutely had to be said, was thank you. I realized every fear, hardship, trouble and inconvenience our family had ever faced was shared, and maybe multiplied, by every person in that room. Epiphany doesn't seem strong enough--I was as humbled as if I was in God's shadow. It was all I could do to keep from tears, I was close. So thank you for saying "Thank you." We all need to say it, even vet to vet, even if it's just one day a year.