Veterans Day 2012
Sunday, November 11 is Veterans Day. Monday is when the holiday will be observed with bank closings and no postal delivery.
Here is an excellent set of facts about veterans in America from the United States Census Bureau. The Census reports that there were 21.5 million veterans in the United States as of 2011. Click the link for a statistical profile of America’s veterans.
Here is how the Census Bureau describes Veterans Day—
“Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.”
Above you see a picture of where a portion of my father’s ashes are kept at the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island. Tony was a combat veteran of the Korean War.
While regretfully I have not yet been able to visit this cemetery, there is apparently a nice walking trail that you can explore at the cemetery that is maintained in part by the University of Rhode Island. URI is where my father attended college.
Here is what my father wrote some years ago about war—
“One thing that I learned is that the young men who fought in our wars should never be forgotten…Another fact I learned…is that millions may serve but far fewer fight. So, in reality, for many who have served, war is a glory-and-gory myth that feeds on its own legends and publicity.…Another truth I learned is that civilians are combatants in war–embattled victims perpetually on a losing side….That brings us to the biggest deception: The need to be ready defend our freedom if we are to keep it. Those who say that freedom has a price are absolutely right, and wrong: International conflict today is beyond ideology. The only freedom American and Russian leaders offer their people today is the freedom to kill ourselves in the name of freedom. This is not freedom, but allegiance to a suicidal death culture….Today, we are servile to our masters, mistaking economic well-being for true freedom, which is the freedom to live hopefully and not to die needlessly.”
A good thing we could do for our veterans is to respect them and treat them well while they are still with us.
Another good thing we could do is to stop uncritically venerating everything military—especially since so few are willing to serve in our all-volunteer forces and we are not at heart sincere as a nation in saying we respect those who serve—and work towards a culture of peace and true respect for human life.