This Friday, November 11, marks the national holiday of Veterans Day, a day marked by solemnity and reverence to honor those who have served in our nation’s military.
Veteran’s Day initially was known as Armistice Day when it was enacted in 1919 in observance of the end of World War I (which at that time was known as The Great War) on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
A new film on Netflix, All Quiet on the Western Front, a remake of the classic 1930s film based on the book of the same name, graphically depicts the futility of that conflict in which the front lines of the opposing sides became entrenched (literally) from the start of the war to the end.
The only thing that changed during the course of the conflict that began in 1914 was the number of deaths that grew with each passing year of the war. Eventually, 10 million soldiers and another 10 million civilians perished in a war that was fought for nothing and achieved nothing.
The most notable aspect of the carnage of the so-called “war to end all wars,” from the perspective of history, is that it laid the groundwork for WWII just 20 years later by imposing such onerous terms upon the defeated Germans that it provided fertile ground for the rise of Adolf Hitler.
Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and the world again became enmeshed in a global conflagration that made the first world war seem like a mere practice run for the mass annihilation that took place from 1939-45.
Even after that epic second world war, America has been involved in countless bloody conflicts in the 77 years since General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender on the Battleship USS Missouri and millions of our fellow Americans have fought in our nation’s numerous wars and military engagements since then.
Unfortunately, “Peace is at hand” has been nothing but a meaningless slogan for most of the past 103 years.
Armistice Day officially became known as Veterans Day in 1954 so as to include those who served in WWII and the Korean War. All of our many veterans since then also have become part of the annual observance to express our nation’s appreciation to the men and women who bravely have answered the call of duty to ensure that the freedoms we enjoy as Americans have been preserved against the many challenges we have overcome.
Although Veterans Day, as with all of our other national holidays, unfortunately has become commercialized, we urge our readers to take a moment, even if just quietly by ourselves, to contemplate the debt we owe to the veterans of all of our wars and to be grateful to them for allowing us to live freely in the greatest nation on earth.
If nothing else, Veterans Day should remind us that freedom isn’t free and that maintaining our freedom since our nation’s founding has required the personal sacrifice of the millions of our fellow Americans who have placed their lives on the line to preserve our ideals and our way of life.