Thursday, November 11, 2010

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...

an armistice went into effect which essentially ended the fighting during "The Great War" or what we know as World War I. This was in the year 1918 and many moons later in the year 1954, we began celebrating Veterans Day. Both of my grandfathers are veterans. So is one of my uncles. As are two of my cousins. Until the global war on terrorism that is currently being waged began 5 or so years ago, I honestly never really thought that much about Veterans Day. Sure, I knew that both of my grandfathers were in WWII and my uncle was in Vietnam but didn't everyone have grandfathers who faught in WWII and uncles who faught in Vietnam? In my mind, veterans were old men who fought in wars during a time long before I was even a figment of anyone's imagination and in places far, far away. I was far removed from the reality of war. Apparently I watched too many Miss America pageants as a child and somewhere along the way thought that the contestants' messages of World Peace had made an impression on the powers that be because I never imagined that my generation would be a generation of war veterans. Until 2003 happened and suddenly I knew people on the road to Baghdad. My former classmates. My friends. Fiances and boyfriends of some of my closest friends in the world. It put a whole new perspective on such matters for me when my peers became the ones who were responsible for leading Soldiers into battle and protecting the American people from harm. Sure, the fighting was taking place in a land far away but lives were impacted all around me. The word Veteran was no longer reserved for old men full of memories that took place years ago on foreign soil. Now, I cannot say for sure, but I imagine that serving in the military is much like being a parent in the sense that it has potential to be a pretty thankless job. When I was growing up, my parents always provided for my every need (and most wants) without expecting anything from me in return. Did I ever think to tell them "Thanks" for things like food or school shoes or ballet lessons? Of course not. Yet they continued to do their job of parenting. I didn't really know what it was like to not have something. But when something went missing, who did I look to first to fix the problem? Dear old mom and dad. Well, the same goes for us living here in the United States. We don't know what it's like to not have the rights and privileges that we do. But if we woke up one morning and suddenly they were gone, who would we look to first and wonder what happened? Not mama and daddy, but Uncle Sam's nephews and nieces. Of course the people responsible for fighting for these freedoms we have lived a long time ago. However it's the generations that have followed who were and are responsible for maintaining them. I mean, one can't lose a bunch of weight and then immediately revert back to eating cookies and cheeseburgers and expect to keep the weight off right? It has to be maintained. The same goes for the protection of a nation. If we had no military, I imagine that we would all be saying things like oot and aboot or however it is that those crazy Canadians to our north say things. Or we'd all be taking an afternoon siesta between lunch and the end of the work day...ok, that might not be so bad. The point that I'm trying to make is that I think that we all have roles to play as Americans. If we aren't cut out for camo and combat boots, then we need to do our part to show our appreciation to those who are. So all that to say...Thanks. Thanks Pop and Papa and Uncle Hugh and Kyle and Kasey. Thanks friends. Thanks prospective student who I'm working with as he is making plans to get back into school next fall after he serves his last few months in Iraq. Thanks. And Happy Veterans Day.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13
[Note: Originally published on November 11, 2008.]

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