Today is Veterans Day. Formerly known as Armistice Day, this holiday was originally created to commemorate the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. That war was referred to as the “war to end all wars.” That was a thoughtful and hopeful wish—albeit unrealistic. Unfortunately, it did not come true. Throughout the 20th century and in response to the horrific acts on September 11 at the beginning of the 21st century, U.S. forces have continued to fight the evils that plague our world. In our all-volunteer military, men and women continue to risk their lives as icons of justice and freedom as they counter the forces of evil that would do us harm. We live in a dangerous world.
Armistice Day was officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954. Although many people confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day, we should note that Memorial Day honors those members of the military who paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives in the service of our nation. This includes those killed in action or who died as a result of wounds or injuries received in battle. Over the years, Memorial Day has also evolved to honor any veteran who has died.
On the other hand, Veterans Day is an occasion to honor any and all military veterans who served with honor and to thank them for their service. It includes giving thanks to all living veterans and to the men and women who continue to serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard.
With controversies over the National Anthem and the American flag still conspicuous, it is tempting to be discouraged and to fear that patriotism is on the decline. In recent violent demonstrations across the land, we have frequently seen the American flag burned and heard anti-American chants. What happened to the America of our parents or grandparents? Are we truly unified as Americans? Are we truly the United States? With so much polarization and toxicity that seem to come with an election year, we need to focus on what we share in common—what brings us together, not that which divides us. We need to celebrate as Americans this Veterans Day.
Now, more than ever, we need this celebration that is distinctively American and unapologetically patriotic. Be encouraged. Patriotism still lives. We are still the international beacon of justice, freedom, and hope. There have always been naysayers and those who see the faults of our nation and deny the noble and good. That is as old as our republic. However, as a whole, we are blessed to live in a nation where our communities are united and strong, and where hearts beat with love of country.
A poem, attributed to Colonel C.E. Thompson, is as relevant and meaningful as when he penned these words in 1965.
To you beneath the Crosses
and stones at Arlington,
to you who fell at Iwo
and Salerno and Verdun:
We ask that you
ignore the noise
raised by a fractured few,
and hear the distant heartbeat where
your sons will follow through.
It comes again 11 November
now, and those who walk your land
are here but to remember
and remind you where they stand:
The creed you loved
Your flag shall not come down!
The gift you gave still stirs the brave
and ridicules the clown.
At Schweinfurt and at Midway
and at Inchon and Bastogne
and all the thousand places
where your valor stands alone:
Pray rest you still,
‘till those who scorn
the trumpet have withdrawn.
As a retired Army officer, I am frequently told by people (even total strangers), “Thank you for your service.” I am always humbled by that. And my response is always the same: “It was an honor to serve.” I believe I speak for virtually every veteran in our country when I say that serving in the United States military was one of the highest honors any of us have ever received. We served because we love our country, and we are grateful for the love and respect we receive from our fellow citizens.
May God bless all our brothers and sisters in arms, the military veterans of our great nation. May we all aspire to live by our Founders’ noble intentions and courageous deeds—deeds which continue to live through the men and women who wear the uniform of the Armed Forces today. Have a blessed and patriotic Veterans Day!
In honor of Veterans Day, Bald Beagle, the ACLJ's new children’s channel has released a new video. Enjoy.
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