Wednesday, November 11, 2009
a big 'thank you'
This Veterans Day, we honor those who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those who have served the nation in times of peace.
Many of us have families with military histories. Our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers served in World War I. Other family members, and you yourself, may have served during one of the other conflicts our country faced.
Veterans Day, celebrated on Nov. 11, is a federal holiday observed annually to honor our military veterans. The first recognition of veterans came from President Woodrow Wilson, when he proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919, as Armistice Day following the end of World War I. Congress eventually changed the name to "Veterans Day" Nov. 8, 1954.
It is time to remember the true meaning of Veterans Day. This is not just a federal holiday -- another day off from work or school for many people in the middle of November. Veterans Day is not about watching football games or shopping the early holiday sales at stores and malls. Veterans Day is about honoring those men and women who have served our country and protected our freedoms.
The United States' current involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan plays a big role in keeping our thoughts and prayers focused on Veterans Day. We think about the current conflict and the sacrifices so many are making for us -- the same sacrifices so many made for our country at other times of war.
Few of us can say we haven't been touched in some direct way by the conflict in the Middle East. Many have immediate family members who are serving, or have served, in the war. Some have witnessed firsthand the tragic loss of a family member. Others know of friends who have lost a loved one in battle.
According to the American Legion public relations office, fewer than 10 percent of all Americans can claim the title "military veteran." But what a list of accomplishments those 10 percent can claim.
"From defeating Communism, Fascism and Imperialism, to keeping the peace during the Cold War and battling terrorism today, America owes a debt to her veterans that can never be fully repaid," notes Clarence Hill, the national commander of the American Legion.
Nov. 11 is a time to honor all of our veterans and thank those who have served and are currently serving our country. Over many decades, there has been one constant in America: the willingness of patriots to answer their country's call to arms.
For that, we say "thank you."