Another Veterans Day is just around the corner, and while our soldiers, both past and present, are never far from my mind, at this time of year I especially think about all that it means to serve our country in the military. Here at the Wayne Township Trustee office there are several people on staff who have served, and many of the folks we work with each day have a military background. We all have some connection with folks who have served, whether in our family or in our circle of friends. So I think that it is good that we have a day set aside to reflect on and appreciate all those who have given of themselves for the good of our country.
As a child I always admired and looked up to the soldiers I knew. In particular I remember wanting to become a United State Marine one day. Maybe it was pictures of the saluting soldier with his white gloves and perfectly-pressed uniform that made me dream so big. I just remember that becoming a Marine was something I wanted to do. But life intervened, and when I became old enough to serve I found myself already college-bound and starting a family. Being both a student and married deferred me from being drafted. But I had many friends who went off to war, and some of them didn’t make it back.
Our country was fighting in Vietnam then, and it was a hot conflict. The war was always in the headlines, and every night on the news soldiers were shown fighting and dying and coming home in flag-covered coffins. It was a controversial war that many people had conflicting feelings about. There was the feeling of wanting to give your all for your country to fight for a cause, and at the same time yearning for peace and an end to the violence. There was a lot of social unrest. Students would hold sit-ins, peace marches and other demonstrations. Sometimes those demonstrations became violent themselves as police and military intervened to end the display. There were many protests over the draft; sometimes young men would burn their draft cards to show their defiance against the war.
As I look back I can see that times have changed. Even though men and women continue to fight for our country in foreign conflicts it seems that it’s a quieter time these days in our society. Men still must register for the draft when they reach eighteen years of age, but no one is called up anymore and required to serve. It’s an all volunteer military now, made up of men and women who have willingly enlisted in the services.
Veterans Day is an official United States federal holiday that is observed annually on November 11, honoring people who have served in the Armed Forces. Other holidays occurring at the same time include Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the end of World War I (World War I formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the peace treaty with Germany went into effect). The United States originally observed Armistice Day-that then evolved into the current Veterans Day holiday in 1954.
To me Veterans Day is a kind of closing of a season that began with Memorial Day in May. Both holidays remember and celebrate all of our cherished military members who have given of themselves in service to our country. From me, for all you have done, thank you!
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