For Veterans Day this year, I decided to give a little more detail. So, this is a longer one!
In the early morning hours of November 11, 1918, American “Doughboys” awoke to the sound of silence.
For the first time in a year and a half, there were no guns. No poison gas. No battle cries. Only silence.
In Paris on this day-eleventh month, eleventh day, the eleventh hour, with the eleventh chime of the city’s clock, an armistice was signed ending once and for all the First World War.
The Great War was the first mass-scale “modern” war fought in the twentieth century. The weaponry, tactics, and number of countries involved in this conflict changed the world stage from many countries to two sides. Two ideologies. One ideology would always hold freedom or a semblance of freedom in reverence-the other side would always endeavor to enslave the human race in some form.
Thus, this divided the armies of the world into a commitment to always fight for one or for the other.
America emerged from this conflict as the main beacon of liberty and thus became quite suddenly a major player on this world stage.
Since then, the United States military has been steadfastly committed to defending our liberties and those of free countries across the world.
But at what cost?
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance as one of our Founding Fathers once said. This vigilance has been at the expense of thousands upon thousands of men and women in our military.
They signed a statement to do whatever it takes to defend freedom across the globe for the United States and its Allies.
This commitment includes paying the ultimate sacrifice which many of these brave souls have stepped up to do.
When Veterans Day was established officially in 1919, it became a day largely recognized by the United States, as a day to honor and remember those who have served and are serving our country.
However, as the years passed, it just became another November day which was forgotten amid the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If it can be so easily forgotten, then is it really that important?
The day Veterans Day was established as a holiday in 1919, was the day the United States buried the “Unknown Soldier” at Arlington National Cemetery.
This day commemorated the memory of a soldier that we will never know. A life that was never lived. This young man had a home. He had a family. He had dreams. He had plans. Then he chose to serve his country, and he was gone. Just like that.
No one would have known of him except he was buried on the day that became Veterans Day.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of Americans have chosen to do what he did and serve. Many, like him, have also never come home.
We are here. They are not. We are free. They are the ones who fought for that freedom.
So, to answer my own question, this is why it is important. Because for many of these veterans, this day is all they have. Only a day of remembrance for a lifetime of selflessness.
Maybe the importance of this day spans beyond the twenty-four hours. Maybe instead of seeing it as a single day, maybe it should instead serve as a time to reset the way we live. A recommitment to live in such a way that we can earn what they gave us. A restart to live the lives they could not. Dream the dreams they could not. And defend the country they loved. Even still it is only a small token of gratitude.
To all who have served and are serving, we say thank you.
Happy Veterans Day.