It’s difficult for someone who has lived her life in the relative comfort of modern suburbia to fully appreciate Veteran’s Day. Too often, in my preoccupied thinking, it is reduced to a day off, no mail delivery, some good sales at the mall, and, oh yeah, a day to honor our veterans.
My family was not well populated with members of the military, so I guess it never felt terribly close to home. My husband, whose father spent his entire career in the Army and who survived WWII, the Korean War and worked in intelligence during the Vietnam War, says it wasn’t a well celebrated event in their household either. I feel a little better.
Veteran’s Day started out as Armistice Day established on November 11, 1919 to remember the signing of the Treaty of Versailles “at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November, 1918.” Woodrow Wilson described its original purpose as follows: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
WWI was thought to be the “war to end all wars.” If only it had been. Today we acknowledge Veteran’s Day with all too present stories of sacrifice and loss. The front page of my local paper today contains one story of a family remembering a fallen loved one and another piece written by a 1st Lieutenant who served with the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan.
To best recognize the day, I will simply quote the two articles mentioned (and linked to) above, for these are people who really know what it means to honor our veterans.
Katie Stack, widow of the fallen Marine, expresses her honest ambivalence toward her husband’s service and its cost to her family. “Of course they’ve built schools and done good over there. Is it worth a father and husband and a son? Is it worth my baby girl growing up without her dad? I don’t know. I know they’re doing good. I know it’s important. They knew what they had to do; they got it done. They are damn good Marines, the 3/5.” Bob and Linda Stack rest in their Christian faith. “If we weren’t certain that our son was in heaven, none of this (support from their community and Marines) would help…The other way to look at it: It’s his first year in glory.”
The world is not at peace, but we can still experience personal peace. For now that will have to do.
Jesus said to his disciples on the night of his arrest: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33