By Spencer PriceEvery year, America sets aside a special day ‘“ Veterans Day ‘“ to thank its veterans for their service and sacrifice. And well we should.Originally known as Armistice Day in America and Europe, the occasion commemorated the signing of the armistice between the Allies (in particular, America, Britain, and France) and Germany at 11:00AM on November 11, 1918 ‘“ the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of that year. The armistice marked the end of World War I which came to be known as the ‘war to end all wars.’Later, in America, the name was changed to Veterans Day and each year across the country thousands of parades, festivals, and celebrations of every sort are held in honor of our nation’s veterans. And during many of these celebrations, two minutes of silence are observed beginning exactly at 11:00AM in honor of our nation’s fallen heroes.There is a saying, ‘Freedom is not free.’ That is especially true of America’s freedom. To gain a bit of perspective regarding our nation’s sacrifice in the name of protecting our freedoms, one need only consider the number of soldiers killed in battle: Revolutionary War (1775 ‘“ 1783) 25,324; War of 1812 ‘“ 2,260; Mexican War (1846 ‘“ 1848) 13,283; Civil War (1861 ‘“ 1865) approximately 640,000; Spanish-American War (1898) 2,893; Philippines War (1899 ‘“ 1902) 4,273; World War I (1917 ‘“ 1918) 116,708; World War II (1941 ‘“ 1945) 408,306; Korean War (1950 ‘“ 1953) 54,246; Vietnam War (1957 ‘“ 1975) 58,219; Persian Gulf War (1990 ‘“ 1991) 363; Afghanistan War (2001 to date) approximately 1,800; Iraq War (2003 to date) approximately 5,000.Further, the number of American soldiers wounded in battle often far exceeds those killed: Revolutionary War (1775 ‘“ 1783) 8,445; War of 1812 ‘“ 4,505; Civil War (1861 ‘“ 1865) 418,206; Spanish-American War (1898) 1,637; Philippines War (1899 ‘“ 1902) 2,840; World War I (1917 ‘“ 1918) 204,002; World War II (1941 ‘“ 1945) 670,846; Korean War (1950 ‘“ 1953) 103,284; Vietnam War (1957 ‘“ 1975) 153,356; Persian Gulf War (1990 ‘“ 1991) 357; Afghanistan War (2001 to date) approximately 5,000; Iraq War (2003 to date) approximately 15,000. Many of those wounded in action suffer permanent disabilities or are permanently disfigured.However, honoring veterans isn’t only about recognizing the number killed or wounded in action. It’s also about recognizing their sacrifices which come in many forms: time away from home and family; the missed milestones in children’s lives such as graduations, recitals, awards banquets and sporting events; enduring the rigors of deployment or the horrors of battle; and the homesickness among so many other sacrifices.When Daddy joined the US Army at the outbreak of World War II, he was 22 years old. He had seldom been away from home. One day he stepped on a train in Parkersburg, West Virginia, waved goodbye to his mother through the window, and didn’t return for three and a half years. He sailed halfway around the world to serve in lands as foreign to him as if he had landed on another planet. He served in New Guinea, the Philippines, and numerous islands in between. And when it was all over, he spent 33 days at sea crossing the Pacific Ocean in an LST ‘“ landing ship tank ‘“ small vessels designed to transport soldiers from troop ships to the beach, not to sail across the open ocean. Now that is sacrifice.Through the years, he seldom spoke of the war. Quiet humility is his nature after all. And it is the nature of many from his generation that has come to be known as the ‘greatest generation.’ I’m proud of his service. I’m proud of all Americans who’ve served our nation honorably. And I’m proud to be a veteran myself.So, this Veterans Day, be proud of America’s veterans and be proud of America. And never apologize for America’s greatness. After all, we earned it. And for that, don’t forget to thank a veteran.
Be First to Comment