Posted 11/08/17 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War I ended. This day, Nov. 11, would become known as “Armistice Day” and later in the United States be recognized as “Veterans Day.”
At the time, “The Great War,” as World War I was then referred to was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.” But as we know far too tragically, that would not be the case as the world again saw World War II and continued conflicts in the years that have followed.
While there are very few people that remember living through World War I, it was a war that forever changed the political landscape of Europe and ushered the world into modern warfare where hundreds of thousands of soldiers would die in combat. Today, there are no living World War I veterans.
But today, there are thousands of American veterans living and working among us who helped fight for freedom in Europe, the Pacific, in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world. According to the latest data available in 2016, there are 18.5 million veterans in the United States of which 9.2 million are over the age of 65 and 1.6 million are female.
It is to these living veterans that we owe our eternal gratitude and thanks not only on Veterans Day, but every day of the week, month and year. These are the men and women who after faithfully serving this nation, go about their lives living and working beside us. Some suffer far more physically and emotionally than we, as civilians, will ever know from their time of service. Some of these veterans are in nursing homes. And tragically, some of our veterans could not make the adjustment back to civilian life and became homeless.
Yet still many of these veterans are proud of their military service to the United States. You see them wearing their military uniforms at Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs. You see them on parade floats. You see them caring for the flags on our Main Streets and parks. While their time of active service to this country may have ended with World War II, Korea, Vietnam or Afghanistan or any of the other conflicts the United States has been involved in, their love of the United States has not ended.
Our veterans know the real price of keeping the world free.
Which is why Veterans Day should be a time when Americans stop and remember the brave men and women who have risked their lives for the United States of America.
As President Dwight Eisenhower, who signed the law changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day, said in one of his addresses, “it is well for us to pause, to acknowledge our debt to those who paid so large a share of freedom’s price. As we stand here in grateful remembrance of the veterans’ contributions we renew our conviction of individual responsibility to live in ways that support the eternal truths upon which our Nation is founded, and from which flows all its strength and all its greatness.”
America owes its veterans a debt of gratitude.