If you live in a free nation, have a say in how that nation is governed and can move about freely without fear of surprise attacks, please take a moment today and thank a Veteran. The following piece appeared earlier today in a New Jersey publication – yet it rings as true here, there and everywhere:
World War I was not, as optimists hoped, the “war to the end all wars.” It was also known, somewhat oxymoronically as “The Great War.” It was, however, the genesis of what has come to be known as Veterans Day, the day we set aside each year to honor all the men and women who have served in this country’s armed services.
Months before the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the Allied nations and Germany declared a temporary end to fighting, an armistice, on Nov. 11, 1918.
A year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service…”
As the 20th century has shown us all too clearly, an armistice is always a temporary affair. We know, as surely as night follows day, that other battles will come, that more blood will be spilled, that other wars will be named.
America, though, has always had those who stood up and said, “In war or peace, I stand ready to serve my country, to protect America and to defend my fellow citizens against whatever powers array against it.”
And today, especially, we try to remember that our thanks for their service does not end when these citizen soldiers cease to be soldiers and become full-time citizens again.
The end of any terrible war is supposed to be a time to, in Lincoln’s words, “…bind up the nation’s wounds … to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.”
This country must serve those who have served us. There are, in our most recent veterans, both visible and invisible wounds of mind, body and soul. As a nation we must be vigilant that the government gives every veteran his or her due, both in veterans’ hospitals and in civilian facilities. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case.
Too often, the government has acted as if it wished soldiers would “fade away” so they do not have to burden the taxpayer. That attitude has no place in an America that says it values its veterans.
Veterans Day is a time to bring old and young veterans into sharp focus to remember what they have done on our behalf, and to thank them.
We see them now and again, members of the VFW and other veterans groups as they walk down small-town Main Streets today. Some may move more slowly now; they may have put on pounds since they mustered out.
But there are some things time never takes away: a sense of pride, a sense of honor and the knowledge they have done their part to keep this country strong and brave.
Our debt to them can never be marked, “Paid in full.”
From all of us at Maui TV News, Thank You, Veterans.
(Article originated in MyNewJersey.com)