November 11 is the official day of that month set aside to take off work, barbecue, and watch sports on TV. Right?
In this country where many millions of men and women have given their lives to protect our freedoms, lots of people choose to use that day set aside to remember their sacrifice as an excuse to get together with friends and loved ones, overeat, lie around, and watch sports.
At 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, in a railroad car on a siding at Compiègne, representatives of the allies of World War I and Germany signed what was called an armistice -- The Armistice: an agreement to cease hostilities on the western front. Although fighting continued for some time, that day, specifically, the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" soon came to symbolize the end of the war to end all wars.
The first official Armistice Day was held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace on the morning of November 11, 1919 to commemorate the approximately 20 million people who paid the ultimate price to protect their loved ones from the spread of evil in that horrible war. Although some countries still observe Armistice Day, others changed the name to Remembrance Day after World War II to honor veterans of that and subsequent wars. The United States changed the name to All Veterans Day to honor all veterans. The name was later shortened to Veterans Day. However, in the United States, we chose to do something a little different than other countries and honor ALL American veterans, living or dead, on November 11. Our official national remembrance of war dead is in May. Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day, originated right after the Civil War, when graves of soldiers were decorated in their honor.
OK, now you know the difference in Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and the origins of their names. This article will go be in the paper the day after Veterans Day so I hope you took the opportunity to tell living veterans that you appreciate their service. I also hope you took a moment to remember those who toed the line and said, "Not on my watch. Evil will not triumph while I have breath in my body and strength to fight."
Yes, I hope you took the time to remember and appreciate the price that was and continues to be paid for your freedom.
But do I hope you spent the day remembering and appreciating and nothing else.
Not really. Those of us who are veterans and have lost friends and loved ones in that fight for freedom, know that they would love to be here with us to overeat, lie around, and watch sports. I'm writing this before that hallowed day and I assure you I plan to enjoy some barbecue and probably watch a game with my friends and loved ones, but I hope, if they see me sitting quietly with a far-away look on my face, that they will understand that I am thinking of, and honoring, all those who have toed that line.
Veterans, I thank you for your service.