One hundred and one years ago on this 11th day of November, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed this date as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, noting the end of World War I.
This day became known here in our country as Veteran’s Day, a day we still celebrate and give honor to those who served our country in military service.
“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” ~Bob Dylan
I didn’t grow up in a military family but there are several veterans in my family who I admire and hold in high esteem because of their willingness to protect my country and my freedom.
And I’d like to honor those veterans today in my thoughts as well as highlight some photos I’ve taken over the years pertaining to three military branches – U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force – that I think are appropriate for Veteran’s Day.
I regret that I don’t have pictures to honor the U.S. Marine Corp or the U.S. Coast Guard, but please know that I am thankful for those military veterans as well.
My father did not serve in World War II, although he certainly would have if he had not been given a health deferment. But my father’s brother, my uncle, did go to war and blessedly, he returned.
While clearing out my parents’ home after their deaths, my sisters and I discovered many postcards, written by my uncle and sent to our grandmother (his mother) during his time at war, as well as a couple of photos. We gave them all to our cousin, the son of our uncle, but before I did so, I scanned a few pictures of my uncle in his uniform.
My husband’s oldest brother, who passed away last year, was a U.S. Navy veteran. It touched our hearts that he was given a military burial and received some veterans’ benefits before he succumbed to cancer.
I also want to honor other vets today who have been part of my life.
My brother-in-law, married to my oldest sister, served in the U.S. Army prior to the Vietnam era.
A former brother-in-law went to Vietnam and I still remember the anxiety and concern our family felt while he was stationed in that war zone.
I also still recall the disgraceful way our Vietnam veterans were treated, which I believe was horrendous, when they returned home.
I also must give a salute of respect and appreciation to our many friends and acquaintances who also answered the call and fulfilled their duty to protect our country by their military service.
And last, but certainly not the least, I honor my own husband, a former Army officer, who willingly answered the call to duty when he joined R.O.T.C. in college and then spent several years on active duty after graduation and our marriage. One of those years we spent apart when he followed orders to serve and protect our freedom while overseas.
Not only should we give reverence to our veterans, but also to their families as well.
It’s not easy being a member of a military family. The hardships are many and they must be strong and steadfast as they support their loved one, at home and abroad.
Papa occasionally wears a baseball cap with the words U.S. Army embroidered on it and it causes me to smile when a stranger will say to him, “Thank you, sir, for your service.”
Even though my husband served his country and us many years ago, he never fails to support his fellow veterans and to educate and inspire the younger generation about the reasons why our military personnel serve our country.
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”~ G.K. Chesterton
Every year, our local high school invites former U.S. servicemen to a Veteran’s Day assembly at the school where they are honored and given opportunities to speak to students about their military experiences.
One year, my husband was invited to speak. His topic? Why it’s important to understand that those men and women who proudly serve begin their duties with an oath, promising to protect and defend the United States Constitution and they take that oath very seriously.
An enlisted service member’s oath is as follows:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
An officer’s oath, the one my husband took, is a little different:
“I, _____ , having been appointed an officer in the _____ (Military Branch) of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”
On this Veteran’s Day due to the pandemic, that high school assembly will not take place, but I urge all of us Americans – young and old – to offer our appreciation, our respect, and our undying gratitude for our veterans.
They deserve it thousands of times over.
“We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.” ~ Ronald Reagan