Tuesday, November 11, 2008
A Prayer for Veterans
First of all, allow me to wish you all a very happy Veterans' Day. I've always found the history of this particular holiday to be sort of interesting.
It was the end of World War I. The carnage on all sides had been unimaginable. It has been said that WWI wiped out an entire generation of European men, and for this reason (among others), it was sometimes called "The War to end all Wars". Officers from both sides met to discuss ending the conflict. They decided, in a flurry of poeticism, that the armistice should take effect "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1919 - a reference to "the 11th hour" term which is used to describe something that happens right at the last moment.
This day was remembered as early as the next day, when President Woodrow Wilson declared that "Armistice" Day should be remembered on 12 November each year.
In the early 1950s, shorty after the Second World War, there was a movement to expand the holiday to include all veterans, not just those who served in WWI. This caught on, and Veterans Day in its present form was born.
We veterans these days are an odd bunch. It is unlike years past when the vast majority of American families had a veteran among them. Now our numbers are dwindling. Relatively few families really understand the sacrifice made by those who wear the country's uniform. This is tragic. It leads to decision-making that fails to factor in what is best for the military, and by extension, best for our security as a nation.
I'm not saying that because I am a veteran I should have special privileges. The fact that I and others served ensures that all Americans have equal privileges. Instead, I am filled with a special pride and honor. And I feel that I have definitely earned my right to have an opinion, whether or not it is agreeable to people.
We veterans are small in number. This is why we must be large in voice. We have a special responsibility to share what we know to be true about the world - that there will always be bad people who desire our destruction. That wars, although a horrible thing, will likely always be necessary to confront and defeat those people. That diplomacy would be great - if it worked to secure our liberty the way military might does.
Today I pray earnestly for the safety of our men and women in uniform. I pray for all those who have ever answered their country's call to service. I pray that we will all continue to do what we swore to do, years ago in some MEPS Station, to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic".
This is our duty, my fellow Veterans. Our country needs our voice again. Our country calls. May God give us the strength and will to answer.