Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Armistice Day

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 1918 the guns of WWI fell silent.

I always called this day Armistice Day because that was what I was raised to call it. My parent’s fathers had been very strict on the fact that the veterans of each war should have a recognition of their own days – so VJ day and Armistice day were very different in my household. I still believe that sometimes we in America are quick to combine holidays (Presidents day) and forget their meaning – beyond that of a day off. However, a unified Veterans day on November 11th seems just right.

Both of my grandfathers fought in WWI. One was a Corporal in the Army and On September 11th had just returned to the trenches after recovering from being temporarily blinded by mustard gas. My other grandfather was a Marine and on September 11th he was in a hospital starting a long recovery from wounds that would plague him all of his life – he was the lucky one in his unit – most of his friends were dead by September 11th 1918.

That was the “War to end all wars” but unfortunately it didn’t take. Armistice day was extended to honor all veterans of the wars that followed – WWII, Korea, Vietnam. I don’t know if I consider it an advancement in the world that we no longer go into each one of the conflicts thinking that this will be that last one – this time it will be the ‘war to end all wars’.

Now the US is in the middle of a war against terrorism – a war that I believe will have no defined end – no Armistice Day (who would sign the treaty?). In fact, this war had no real beginning – September 11 is the day that many of us found out about a war that had begun over a decade before. There were men and women who had fought valiantly for us all without our even knowing it… At Kobar Towers, on the USS Cole and in the Embassies there were already far to many casualties in this new war. Because of that I am glad that Armistice Day is now Veterans day. I am certain that my Grandfathers would be more than happy to share their Armistice Day to honor those who have fought and continue to fight to defend all that this nation stands for.

The men and women who are fighting this war deserve our recognition and our thanks – for the efforts and sacrifices that they have made in order to keep us all free. Tonight I will be working at the USO and I look forward to being able to thank several veterans in person… if you see a veteran today be sure to say thank you.