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.
Today is Veteran’s Day.
Above is the Navy bugler who played taps at my father’s funeral service last July In Rhode Island.
My father, a Korean War combat veteran, had his ashes scattered at sea.
On Veteran’s Day, we should recall our veterans here in America, and all people who have suffered needlessly from war around the globe.
I know my father said on a number of occasions he was not angry at the Chinese and North Korean troops he fought against. He said he had no problem with any Chinese or North Korean people.
Let’s work for peace at home and abroad.
Let’s treat our veterans with respect, and let’s make sure they have what they need when they return from service.
Today is Veteran’s Day.
Those who have served in our wars since 1776 have risked everything for the good of others.
In our all volunteer forces of today, it is just a few who are willing to serve.
Thank you to our veterans and to those who serve today.
I called my father today for Veterans Day. My father, now 77, was a medic in the Korean War. He also saw combat.
Dad was not home so I left a message. I told him our society despised old people and veterans because they are often not economically self-sufficient.
Dad called back to say that he saw most people as “simply indifferent.”
I suggested that if what he was saying was true, that apathy was a bigger insult than dislike and as such, as I said, he is despised. Dad said that view might have some merit.
Veterans Day has brought my father and I toghether.
Here is the Washington Post report that broke the story of poor care at Walter Reed.
Here is an Anderson Cooper report on homeless Iraq War veterans.
Here is a USA Today story reporting that one in four homeless people are veterans.
Here is a link to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.