Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans' Day!

The only thing my kids wanted to know about Veterans Day was, "Why don't we have the day off?" Unfortunately, not enough is said about this holiday, except to inform people that banks and the post office are closed.

Veterans Day is not unique to the United States. On November 11 of each year, other countries celebrate the armistice that ended World War I. We called it Armistice Day, too, when it was declared a legal holiday in 1938. About 15 years later, President Eisenhower signed into a law a bill that declared November 11 a tribute to all veterans.

My father is a veteran. He served in Germany in World War II. He has stories about his time in the army--what went right and what went wrong, what it felt like to hold a gun and how he got conned into becoming a mess sergeant and, as he says, "the only idiot who would deliver food to the front lines."

But to truly understand what being a veteran means to my father, you have to see his eyes become moist every time he hears "The Star Spangled Banner." Listening to those words clearly reminds him what he and others fought for. He did his part-- whether it was cooking food for battle-weary and frightened soldiers or taking his turn on the front lines to face the enemy--to secure freedom, and I believe he continually prays that his great country will remain free.

My father passed along his nostalgia for the National Anthem onto me. I get emotional for different reasons. Sure, I'm proud of my country and I want it to be the best it can possibly be. But every time I hear the National Anthem, I also think about my father. I think about the sacrifice of fighting in a foreign land, the sadness of losing fellow soldiers and the fear of wondering if you'll be next.

I'm glad I am able to know so much about my father's time in World War II, and I'm thankful for what he did. And even though I don't have the day off, I'm happy that we have Veterans Day so we can honor those who did so much for us and for others.

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