By Father Glenn J. Comandini
Veterans’ Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was established in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson to commemorate the day when the Treaty of Versailles officially ended the First World War at the 11th hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. This was also to be a day to honor the heroism of those who died in the Great War, as it had been known — a day marked by parades, public meetings and only a half a day of work.
On June 1, 1954, then President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name of the national holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans’ Day. This observance would salute all those men and women who served in wars that followed World War I, including World War II, which involved the greatest number of marines, sailors and airmen ever deployed, and the Korean Confl i c t .
Veteran’s Day was now a national holiday that required all government offi ces to close. Many schools were also closed so that the children could attend the parades organized to salute those who fought on behalf of our nation in foreign wars.Soon thereafter, Veterans’ Day would also include those military men and women who served our country in Vietnam War, Somalia, the Falklands and Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike Memorial Day which honors those veterans who died during combat, Veterans’ Day became the day to honor the men and women in the military who did not die in combat but who returned to the United States alive. We salute these men and women of our armed forces because they were willing to put their lives on the line to ensure that the strangers they were serving, in the name of America, would enjoy the freedom and democratic ideals that are at the heart of who we are as citizens of these United States. Sadly, many of these veterans have been neglected. Some of these are homeless. Others suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Still others, who had been injured in combat or from an I.E.D. (improvised explosive device), now
wear prosthetic limbs, are confined to wheelchairs or bedridden. Those who can no longer care for themselves due to their age or infirmities, now reside in veteran hospitals. In short, not all those who wore the uniform of our Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Army or Air Force are appreciated as they ought to be. On November 11, let us pray for all our veterans, for their service to our country, for their willingness to sacrifice, ifneeded, their own life for a greater good. In many ways, “isn’t this what Jesus did for all of us on the Cross?” God bless all those who served in the military.
For information on how you can help our veterans visit www.va.gov/ homeless/outreach.asp.
We salute these men and women of our armed forces because they were willing to put their lives on the line …