Nov 12, 2011
In the US, Veterans' Day is celebrated on November 11th. Originally, it was called Armistice Day and was the day when Hostilities ceased in World War I. And from the beginning, it was a time to honor veterans of that war. But in the early 1950's, we had had an even bigger war, followed by a conflict in Korea. And so, the name was changed to Veteran's Day, and it was expanded to include all veterans.
Many countries have a similar honoring, and well they should. In my heart, I honor all veterans, even those who would have once been my enemies. In some countries, military service is mandatory, or at least an expected rite of passage into manhood for young men. It was that way for me when I first put on a uniform. I could let them choose a path for me, or I could choose one of their offered alternatives. I chose the Air Force ROTC and became an officer.
All veterans, before coming into military service, are basically ordinary people with ordinary lives. Then, they choose or are chosen. And there are few guarantees as to who will get chosen for which, or what the original motivation might be. One famous fighter ace and test pilot became an aviation cadet to escape the duty roster. I volunteered for intelligence in VietNam, and was assigned to administration in Illinois instead. A person can have what seems to be a quiet assignment in a comfortable place until an enemy decides to make it otherwise. A freind offers to go on a mission in a friend's place. The possibilities are infinite. It's hard to predict who will be the next hero and who will spend their service time doing word processing somewhere in Kansas.
And then the time comes for the soldier, sailor, airman or marine to hang up the uniform and go home. And what do they want from all that? For the most part, simply to go home and resume an ordinary life.
There are a few issues, such as how veterans are portrayed by the media, and some local attitudes about veterans.
But the important thing is that veterans were there for us, and we need to acknowledge that!