Veteran’s Day: 11 Nov 10

As I paused in remembrance for two minutes today, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, for Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, or as it was originally called, Armistice Day, my mind was flooded with a variety of thoughts.

May we all remember:

It is the Soldier

 

It is the Soldier, not the minister

Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter

Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet

Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer

Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer

Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician

Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,

Who serves beneath the flag,

And whose coffin is draped by the flag,

Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

~Charles M. Province

The end of World War I hostilities on the Western Front, as stipulated by the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany, took effect at the eleventh hour, and in respect for the 20 million that died in that war, a two minute moment of silence is observed by many to this day.  I like this tradition, and continue to observe this form of respect, and am constantly amazed how much I believe we can all benefit from such events.  Prior to this war, the concept of a multi-national involvement in a war was not new, just as the French were involved in our Revolutionary War.  This war presented a new twist on the battles between peoples due to the significant magnitude of mechanization.  Military tanks, aircraft, submarines, and other products of engineering played a larger role than in previous wars or hostilities.  In my opinion, all of these tools aided in a huge conceptual change to how we viewed war, unfortunately for the worse, they all made the combat less personal.  Furthermore, in subsequent wars, conflicts, and other combat operations, this detachment has been made even more possible by technological advances.

It is that disconnect of direct and personal involvement that essentially dulls the magnitude of such events on an individual level.  We all have experienced tragedy or loss, in our lives, in some form or another, and the closer that situation is connected to how we identify ourselves, the more profound impact it has on our lives.  For instance, if we consider how many people that we have personally known that have died, the number is probably lower than 20. Compared to the 20 million that died during World War I, and the associated grief to their family and friends, the idea is staggering, especially since it was a much larger percentage of the population in 1918.

Interestingly, despite the range of images, they all returned me to the same three conclusions:  gratitude, awe, and hope.  There is much gratitude for all those that have served before me, protecting this country (and the world) “from all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  So many have served throughout our history, overcoming all odds to preserve our ideals, and we should be forever grateful and never forget.  Awe is the only way to describe the concept of the almost inconceivably possible role that the United States of America has as the world’s sole super-power.  We, not the UN or any other organization, are the global guardian, despite our low percentage of terra firma, short historical time frame, or great diversity of our people.  Again, sometimes we can be distant from the meaning of things, even the name, “United States.” I actually like the Spanish and Italian translations (“Estados Unidos” & “Stati Uniti”), which of course mean the same thing, “States United.”  Somehow the mere transposition seems to have a more fraternal feel.  There is hope, hope that we all can learn from history, past mistakes, and experience, to create a better life, a better community, and a better world.

My hope, is that as the planet continues to evolve, while growing smaller every day, a change is made in how we all think, specifically that we remember to think, and think to remember.  

Take care, God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America!

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