Veterans Day is a time to reflect and honor those that served in the United States military. It often seems like we live in a world of self-centered people that are only interested in their own goals and issues. This is not so with the men and women of our armed forces.
They are willing to sacrifice their lives on our nation’s behalf, every day.
To honor those brave men and women, we celebrate Veterans Day. Not just what it means today, but also for those veterans of World War I, the aging veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and the recent veterans of the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq. All of the conflicts that America has been involved in have created their share of heroes. Yesterday and today — to always be remembered.
A short history lesson
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day. A day set aside to honor veterans of World War I. The armistice began on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and across the United States and the countries that fought against the Axis powers. November 11th has become the day of celebration, even though the peace treaty that ended the war was signed the following April.
After the end of the Korean War, the federal government expanded the holiday to include all veterans of all wars. No longer honoring just World War I veterans, the holiday was moved around a bit during the 1960s and 70s, but eventually returned to November 11th. It took a while but eventually the federal government realized that honoring veterans was more important than a three day weekend.
In total, the Veterans Administration estimates that approximately 22 million people have served in the military. That equates to 7.3 percent of Americans have had military service. Currently, less than .4 percent of the population are actively serving in today’s military. So few are willing to give so much.
Veterans Day celebrations now
Communities around the country celebrate Veterans Day with parades and social gatherings. The celebration used to involve two minutes of silence at 11 am, but that aspect of the holiday is no longer stressed. That is unfortunate. Those quiet minutes, reflecting on the sacrifices of our veterans is an act we should and do encourage.
This quiet time can be used to pray for our service members or just reflect on the sacrifices they make. The choice of how you honor them is personal, just like the reasons that they serve. Each one is an individual, with their own thoughts and beliefs. No matter what religion you believe, some words have a power all of their own.
There is no greater love than this
Veterans are different than the rest of the citizens. No matter the circumstances of their life, each and every veteran was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, their community or their comrades at any moment. As the Bible reminds us, “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”
Veterans Day honors that love, that potential that each veteran is willing to make. Conscription is no longer the law of the land. Any person serving in the military, each Marine or Sailor, Soldier, Airman or National Guardsman is there, willing to give up their life, for the good of their community and country. That alone demands our respect.
Respect shouldn’t come just once per year
With these thoughts in mind the number of veterans decreases every year. With less people serving in the military and older veterans passing away, the debt we owe to them increases. These men and women have stood in harm’s way to protect our nation and way of life for over two hundred years, asking for little glory or reward. Sadly enough, many times, they receive even less.
Through thick and thin, our veterans have been willing and able to protect us at any cost. Once a year, the nation celebrates the dedication of our service members, but, as a nation, we should honor these heroes every day. Their unwavering commitment to protecting this nation honors us all.