Sam Burnham, Curator
Veterans Day has always been important in our home but it has recently taken a step up. Originally Armistice Day, the observance originated from the storied 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the armistice took effect, halting all hostilities of The Great War, World War I, “The War to End All Wars.”
The war’s nickname failed to be prophetic. Despite the brutality and the horrors of modern technology mixed with traditional fighting styles, the world failed to lose its appetite for armed conflict. The unresolved issues were aggravated by the terms of the treaty that ended the war and the fight continued just two decades later. World War II would grow to overshadow its predecessor in history and much of The Great War has been forgotten, which is unfortunate.
To make the distinctions, Memorial Day is for those who have their lives in war, Armed Forces Day are for those currently serving, and Veterans Day is for those who served previously.
Our family has a long history of military service. My mother has 7 brothers which include 2 soldiers and 4 marines. I have lost count of the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen in the ranks of my cousins, great aunts and uncles, and my grandfather.
Now my oldest son is currently a sailor and training for a planned deployment in the near future. That took things to a new level. While I know Veterans Day is not meant for current active duty personnel, he has given me an even greater appreciation for our veterans. Seeing your own flesh and blood standing in uniform is quite an experience. I’d be lying if I said I have no fear. But that fear takes a backseat to the pride that his dedication has built. I understand the sacrifice of service better now. That empty seat at our dinner table is a constant reminder of the cost of freedom.
While we may debate the motivations of the politicians who call for war, we should never question the honor, duty, and commitment of the men and women who actually serve in harm’s way, far from Washington’s marble halls, those who fly, sail, and march into danger so that others won’t have to. Veteran’s Day is our reminder of those who have already stood their watch and returned to civilian life, at least as much as possible.
As many of these people struggle with where they have been, what they have seen, and what they have done, we must never forget that there are sacrifices made besides death. Perhaps some are worse.
So as we ponder Veterans Day, let us be thankful, let us be understanding, let us be mindful. Take a moment to thank a veteran. Take time to appreciate, hopefully even understand a veteran. We at least owe them that.
A special thank you to all our veterans from All the Biscuits in Georgia, and particularly to the sailors, from our Navy family to yours.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire