Thank veterans for their service
At precisely 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, the guns of World War I went silent.
Historians estimate that as many as 22 million people died during the four years of the conflict with millions more injured or displaced.
In 1938, 20 years after the end of the war, Congress declared the creation of a national Armistice Day to recognize and remember that conflict and to honor those who served. In 1954, under President Dwight Eisenhower, the name was changed to Veterans Day and the scope expanded, not only to honor and remember the veterans of one conflict, but to recognize all those who have served whether in times of war or times of peace.
Veterans Day ceremonies have become an annual tradition. Each year, there are speakers sharing memories of their time in the service, of the sacrifices they endured far from family and of the lifelong friendships forged in the fires of conflict and the shared experiences of service.
Veterans Day is a day for the community to gather and to thank veterans for their service. It is the day each year set aside to honor this service, so that all people may know freedoms enjoyed by all are jealously protected by the service of the few.
Under the shadow of COVID-19, this year’s ceremonies will look and be different. Instead of large gatherings, there are live-streamed programs. The speeches and songs might be the same, but they lose some of their impact when you are forced to watch them on a computer monitor or smartphone screen. In the socially-distanced setting, recognizing the efforts of those who served is a challenge. As any veteran of any conflict can tell you, challenges exist not as barriers, but to be overcome.
Without mass celebrations, the effort of remembering and of thanking those who served falls to each one of us. Likewise, recognizing and thanking veterans for their service cannot happen solely on one day each year, but should be an integral part of everyone’s lives.
This past week, Americans turned out to cast their ballots to elect leaders from president, congress, and state legislatures, down to county constitutional offices. In the weeks and months leading up to the election, there were signs, displays and gatherings. In the aftermath of the vote, some were elated, others disappointed, but America endures. All of these things are thanks to veterans. Veterans who have placed themselves in harms way to ensure that America remains strong and free.
America’s modern armed services represents the highest ideal of those who have heard the call to service and who have answered it in body and spirit.
The shadow of COVID-19 weighs heavily on America, but it does not diminish the gratitude each American should feel toward veterans. Take time this Veterans Day, and every day, to thank those who served.