This day never goes by but what I don't think about all the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces just in my lifetime. Thank you to our veterans!
Actually, as with many families in this country, I can trace military service to a relative who fought for the United States in the Revolutionary War. An additional family story is that four ancestral brothers who had immigrated from England became estranged over the revolutionary issues with two fighting for the Union and two for England. Those latter two brothers fled to Canada when their cause was lost.
I've never undertaken a serious genealogy research, so don't know what wars, including that Civil one, in which other relatives might have served. I do know my father and uncle served in World War I; returned alive though my uncle ultimately died partially from the effects of respiratory problems acquired from exposure to gaseous substances.
More imbedded in my memory are the stories of relatives who served in World War II. Of special remembrance to me are the male and female who were in the Navy, others who attended local USO events designed to entertain the service men and women who were often far from home, sometimes bringing them into their own homes for family visits.
This Veterans Day, which internationally is known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day some places, falls on November 11 (or nearest weekday.) The day refers to the end of World War I which occurred in 1918 formally ending at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The change to the name Veterans Day in the United States came about when in 1953 Emporia, Kansas citizens observed a Veterans Day in lieu of Armistice Day. Subsequently, legislation was introduced in the United States House of Representatives for this official name change to Veterans Day. Then undertaken was a letter-writing campaign directed toward gaining support of state governors for this holidays' observance and name change. All veterans who served would be honored as this name change to Veterans Day was enacted June 1, 1954. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Day)
I think it is important to note that the evolution of Armistice Day to Veterans Day in the United States came about because a group of citizens in the heartland of this country were determined to bring about meaningful change. I have heard from time to time over the years individuals excuse their responsibility for not actively participating in our govenment by voting in our elections because "My vote doesn't count," or, "It doesn't matter whether or not I vote, as it won't make a difference."
U.S. history is replete with many instances which prove individuals votes and actions do make a difference. Over the years I have been aware of many such occurrences and stories. I only wish that I had written down the details about them to repeat here, along with supporting documentation as to the results of their actions and/or votes. But I can start here, pointing to the establishment of our Veterans Day recognition as an instance when citizens actions manifested themselves in a desired outcome of benefit to all our citizens.
Earlier this week our midterm election results clearly conveyed voters desire for change which may well have occurred partially because more individuals exercised their vote. Our veterans who put their lives at risk, and those we honor on Memorial Day who died, gave of themselves so the rest of us could continue to enjoy freedoms unlike those enjoyed in any other country in the world.
On this day when we honor our veterans, I hope we also make a promise to ourselves that if we've not yet registered to vote, we will do so; that we will vote in every future election. Seems to me that is the very least of our responsibilites to our country. If that is not enough incentive then, at the very least, we should do so in honor of our veterans -- not a small, but an important act, when we consider our Veterans willingness to lay their lives on the line so that each of us can exercise our voting priviledge.
Thank you, again, to our veterans!