Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sacrifice as the “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else” and further defines as “something given up or lost”. Every November, I, along with most Americans, take the time to say thank you to those veterans that have served or currently serve our great nation in the enduring battle for our freedom. It’s kind of fitting that Veterans Day also falls in the same month as Thanksgiving. You would think it was planned that way. This, however, was not the case. For those that do not know the history of Veterans Day I’d like to offer some historic insight.
November 11th was originally known as Armistice Day. This date marked the unofficial end to The Great War, now known as World War I, in 1918. An armistice was signed between Germany and the Allied nations that went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918, was generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, this unusually absurd war which was the first war to mix modern technology and pre-modern war tactics failed to end all wars. Instead, the Treaty of Versailles, the official end to World War I, arguably was the driving force behind the next almost globally encompassing war known as World War II.
Armistice Day was first celebrated in 1919 in America when President Wilson proclaimed, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”. In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
In 1938, November 11th was made a legal holiday to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. (http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp)
If ever you wanted to attempt to understand human folly do some research on World War I. I first read about World War I when I was in fourth grade. This led to my fascination of war history and respect for not only our American soldiers but for all soldiers. I read a book about World War I that focused on the Battle of Verdun. The Battle of Verdun was one of the deadliest and longest battles in all of war history with approximately 306,000 deaths and 500,000 wounded over the ten month long battle. What drew me in more than anything about World War I was the courage and bravery of the soldiers on both sides to go “over the top”, which meant to climb out of their trench and assault the opposing side after a hellacious run across what was known as “no man’s land”, over and over again knowing they most likely would be mowed down by an opposing machine gun or blown apart by artillery. It eventually took the Americans getting involved to show how idiotic trench warfare was and to advance through cover while assaulting the enemy instead of lining up on each side and shooting at each other for years with little to no movement in the front lines. To this day I still can’t fully grasp what makes a soldier advance under enemy fire.
Every Veterans Day I try to personally thank all of my family and friends that have served or currently serve. I wish I could do more to thank all veterans and I will continue to live my life the best I can to honor all veterans. So to all veterans, I thank you. From the bottom of my heart and from all I can ever aspire to be, thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for sacrificing your time with your family and friends. Thank you for having the courage to advance under enemy fire. Thank you to your families who bear the burden of not knowing if you will ever come home. Thank you for sacrificing your innocence. Thank you for believing in our great country. Thank you for putting yourself in harm’s way so my children can live free. Thank you especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. If there is ever anything I can do for any of you, just ask.
Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!