Thanks to our U.S. Military Veterans on this date designated to honor their service to the nation on our behalf. This year we have a unique confluence of "eleven" numbers to which some people attribute special significance for a variety of reasons.
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.
Imbedded in my lifetime's memory are the stories of relatives who served in World War II. I especially recall family members serving in the U.S. Navy. Others were active in 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.
I do believe that the sacrifices made by our armed forces during WWII are directly responsible for the fact our country continued to exist as the free democracy/republic our constitution's creators intended. For this reason I accord special tribute to those WWII surviving veterans whose numbers diminish daily, as well as to those who live only in spirit now.
Armed forces personnel are often placed in harm's way with tragic results. Lives are lost, outwardly observable physical and/or mental injuries are incurred, and wounds invisible to the eye alter life for some service people. Our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and lovers -- these men and women are all forever changed, so are their families.
I believe as a nation our people should be insistent that our veterans receive not only initial optimum timely medical care, but continued long term therapeutic interventions needed to maximize their quality of life. I am greatly distressed whenever I become aware veterans have not received the highest level of care. I am particularly concerned that those diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI,) Closed Head Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) receive the extended care they need and their loved ones receive necessary caregiver support.
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 government 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. The establishment of this Veterans Day is an instance when citizens actions manifested themselves in a desired outcome of benefit to all our citizens.
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 educate ourselves on the issues and the candidates, then vote intelligently in every local and national election. Seems to me that is the very least of our responsibilities to our country, ourselves and our children. If that is not enough incentive then, at the very least, we should do so in honor of our veterans. Voting is an important act when we consider our Veterans willingness to lay their lives on the line so that each of us can live in freedom and exercise our voting privilege.
Thank you, again, to our veterans!