The best thing about being a 12-year-old band of brothers (and sisters) is that we now have a comprehensive collection of stories we’ve built over the years. Veterans Day is one of the most important occasions we celebrate here at SOFREP. We look back to our own journeys and remember our fallen comrades in battle as their sacrifice continue to inspire us to always serve for the freedom of our country. And for us, we are using this platform as a way to inform and connect with our fellow veterans.
So, here’s a look at SOFREP’s VD celebration over the years!
“I am a veteran. A veteran of many things, one of which happens to be military service. Air Force service, to the tune of 20 years. What does it mean to me to be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?”
“I didn’t join to make the world a better place, fight terrorism, or even go to school. I joined to make life better for my wife and son. I joined to stop myself from becoming an alcoholic, junkie, or worse. I joined because it was the best option I had at the time. I stayed because of people like TSgt Jones. He was an Air Force veteran when we met, and his example led me to where I am right now, writing this piece for you to read.”
We asked our readers to share with us what Veterans Day means to them. We were overwhelmed with responses.
While reading through them, we began to see themes emerge. One such theme is a deep sense of gratitude for veterans, for their sacrifices, and for how their service has shaped your lives.
Unlike Memorial Day, on which we pause to remember the men and women that sacrificed all for the freedoms we enjoy today, Veterans Day is a day for all vets to be recognized and celebrated regardless of the era that they served in or how long their service lasted.
Veterans Day traces its origins to the end of WWI. The fighting in WWI ended when the Entente and Germany put into effect an armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, was largely considered the end of “the war to end all wars” and dubbed Armistice Day. In 1926, Congress officially recognized it as such. In 1938, it became an official holiday, primarily to honor veterans of World War I.
On June 1, 1954, at the urging of veterans service organizations, Congress amended the commemoration yet again by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars.
Veterans Day is also about remembering those who served for our country and those whom we served with. It is also about remembering the time and experiences, whether good or bad, we shared and what they mean to us.
This has been a busy week in our neck of the woods. We’ve been quite occupied as our town has been preparing for Veterans Day and I can proudly say that our bucolic little burg in the Northeast has never been one to just pay lip service to days like Veterans Day and Memorial Day. They have always put a lot of thought and effort into these events which veterans and citizens can interact.
Our local Veterans Council, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), visited several of the area schools where students, teachers, and veterans interacted both in classrooms and in an assembly. We also visited a local nursing home we spent time with about 20-25 veterans who are getting services there and to also let them know they haven’t been forgotten.
On Saturday morning, the residents of a new development had the Town’s veterans in their community center for a great breakfast where the people donated their time and volunteered to cook for the vets and the community. It is a trend that they started a year ago and helps bring all of us together. A nice touch was around the flagpole in front of the community center was 100 small flags to signify the 100 years since the end of the fighting in World War I….
“When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wondered.”
Veterans Day. Memories of past wars, forgotten battles, fallen comrades all surge back. But what is the true significance of the day? Does it transcend the sacred ranks of those who served, and their families, to reach the wider population? Does it matter?
It does. It matters to veterans. It matters to the community. It matters to politicians and policymakers.
First, it matters to veterans and their families. This is a day when their sacrifices are recognised and appreciated. Nowadays, thanking one for his or her service has become commonplace. But that was not always the case. Vietnam veterans, most notoriously, were shunned — if not abused — for serving their country. Politicians, on the other hand, would escape mostly unscathed. Leading from the front, right? The British have a saying that describes this ignominious situation: “Play the ball, not the man.”
How about you? What does Veterans Day mean to you? Share in the comments below!