Sunday, November 11, 2012

11 11 18


Okay, this is a repost of a repost.  But...I think it’s an important repost.  As opposed to what you’ll see on Thanksgiving.  And don’t get me started on what I’ll throw your way in December.  I’ll have chocolate marshmallow snowmen to eat then.  And you'll expect new stuff?

    Happy Veterans Day!

   I know most of you are expecting my typical wise-guy approach (for those of who aren’t, what have you been reading?).  Most of the time I oblige because there’s a lot of the ludicrous in our lives (if you think I’m wrong, just remember:  Snooki). 

   This one time, though, no wisecracks, no innuendos, no witty asides.  In a break from my usual “shtick,” I’m going to play it straight and briefly speak on the significance of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    On November 11th, 1918, the Germans surrendered to the Allied powers in the Forest of Compiegne, ending what was then known as the Great War.  Little did they know there would be a sequel nearly 21 years later.

    But that’s another story.

    The following November, President Woodrow Wilson declared that “Armistice Day” would henceforth be observed in honor of those who had fallen during the “war to end all wars” (kinda dropped the ball with THAT one, didn’t we?).

    Following the Second World War (the “good” war, an oxymoron if I ever heard one), the town of Emporia, Kansas changed “Armistice” to “Veterans” Day.  The idea was to honor everyone who had served in the armed forces rather than only those who’d fought against the Kaiser.

    As the years went by, the idea of setting a special day aside for veterans took hold throughout the nation.  In 1954, Congress made the name change official while President Eisenhower called on all Americans to observe the day.  But, surprisingly, it took until 1971 for Richard Nixon to declare it a federal holiday.

    In the years since, it’s become little more than an excuse to hold blowout sales on everything from bed linen to used cars (“Buy this Chevy because Patton would have wanted you to.”).  Ceremonies marking the day have been lost in the madcap frenzy of pre-Christmas commercialism.  In fact, what was once a universal day off has turned into pretty much a “federal government employees only” respite.

    I don’t have a problem with this, per se, if it was still recognized for the solemn event that it is.  After all, Veterans Day is much more than sleeping in late and watching Sponge Bob Squarepants in your pajamas while wolfing down a bowl of “Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.”

    Unfortunately, many people don’t even know what Veterans Day is all about.  While at work last November 11th, I was flabbergasted when the morning announcements proclaimed Veterans Day merely as a “day to recognize older people who had a lot of experience.”

    What!?  Now, I don’t wish to denigrate Grandpa’s fly-fishing prowess and, boy howdy, ain’t it cool that Great-Aunt Tilly can knit a quilt with her feet, but c’mon!  Since when is bowling a perfect game the same as convoy duty in Afghanistan?  Quick answer-it’s not.

    As a result, I spent the balance of the day quizzing my coworkers on whether they knew what put the “veteran” in Veterans Day.  Sadly, I was depressed by their appalling lack of knowledge, as very few of them actually understood what all the fuss was about.  But, you can bet your bottom dollar they knew who the frontrunners were on “The Amazing Race.”

    Shocking as it was, I know they weren’t the only ones who had no clue that the 11th of November was different than any other day.  It goes without saying there’s a need to set a few things straight. 

    So, I call on all of us who know better to teach others about Veterans Day.  Urge those around you to take a moment to remember our veterans and those who are still in harm’s way.
    You don’t have to go to a flag-raising ceremony, attend a parade, or even buy one of those “Buddy Poppies” (although I do, because I enjoy talking to those guys).  You don’t have to agree on this war or that war and you certainly don’t have to watch The Sands of Iwo Jima at attention.

    If nothing else, reflect on the service of all those who have worn, and continue to wear, our nation’s uniform.  From Lexington to Kabul, they deserve our respect and our thanks.

    As a veteran myself, I salute them all.
Yep.  Still fits.

31 comments:

  1. This is so true Al, I can't believe that the meaning of Veterans day has became so skewed to certain Americans. Over here we buy our poppies to support the soldiers and it never stops being drummed into our heads how important Remembrance Day (what we call Veterans Day) is. Today's an important day to honour all members of the military and all ex members such as yourself and this is an awesome post to honour that, it's taught me a lot about how it evolved to become veteran's day.

    Thanks so much from the bottom of our hearts Al for all you and your comrades have done to maintain the freedom of America and Western society, we all owe you big time and should never forget. That's a little more important than fly fishing if there ever was something like that.

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    1. It makes me sad. A lot of Americans don't know about today (but those that do have my thanks). It's pretty much the same on Memorial Day-a lot of folks call it the unofficial first day of summer and little more than an excuse to make hot dogs and go to the beach.

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  2. I'm really sad that people don't know what it's really all about :( My nieces do, and they're 12 and 11, so I'd expect older people to know too. It is something that we need to remember, and learn from. Nobody wants anything like that to happen ever again.

    No one sane anyway.

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    1. I think if we keep remembering it, the chances of it happening again are diminished. I'm just afraid that a lot of people think war is little more than a "Call of Duty" experience. Get your head blown off, then jump right back up.
      Scary.

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  3. I always loved marching in the parade when in JROTC.

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    1. I really wish my school had JROTC. All we had was the "Future Safecrackers of America" club.

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  4. We all know up here as it is made a huge deal across Canada. And as well it should be, pretty sad how no one does know or some don't even give a crap about it. When they would be dead or under some crap rule if not or those who fought for them.

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  5. Inspiring post. Thanks for repeating it so folks like me can appreciate it.

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    1. I hesitate to repost so often ("So then, why do you do it all the frikkin' time, Al?") but I felt this was important.

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  6. I knew about the holiday's roots but sadly never knew why it was the 11th. A veteran taught me that it was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.

    Very interesting.

    And I will thoroughly enjoy my Bonus day, since I am a government employee and got Monday off as a bonus since it fell on a Sunday this year.

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    1. When I was stationed in Iceland, the admiral in charge gave us all a FOUR day weekend for each three day weekend. For those months without a three day weekend (e.g., March), he gave us a three day weekend anyway.
      It was a pretty sweet deal.

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  7. Nice post! And I'm impressed that the uniform still fits!

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    1. Only time will tell for how long. I can't resist that ice cream Mrs. Penwasser buys forever.

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  8. What to say, snarky or serious? I'm so torn. Thanks for defending our country. Would you defend it against aliens like in Independence Day?

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    1. Only if I could fly a cool fighter jet.
      And wasn't killed.

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  9. For us, the 11th of November is Rememberance Day. And at 11 am, we pause for a minute silence to remember those that fought for our country.
    Lest we Forget

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  10. And it's not even reasonably priced.

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  11. Wow, a shockingly restrained post from you, sir. And I couldn't have said it better myself. My military experience may my confined to games of Risk and Stratego in my youth, but still...

    * salutes *

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    1. I can sometimes be restrained.
      Now pull my finger!

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    1. I really was quite surprised how fast the time went. I saw a lot of cool things and I did a lot of cool things. Could've done without Christmas in the Persian Gulf, though...

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  13. I salute you, Al. I hesitate to say "thank you" to all war veterans, because it feels so inadequate. I am, as we all are, so much more than grateful.

    Blessings to you.
    xoRobyn

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    1. Talk about "inadequate"....I've hesitated to join the VFW (although I could) because I would feel inadequate talking to an Iraq/Afghanistan vet. All I got is Desert Shield/Storm.
      Be honest, you thought I was going somewhere else with "inadequate," huh? ;-)

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  14. No, I didn't think you were going somewhere else with "inadequate," Al. I thought your wife took over your blog and was going there.
    ;~>
    xoRobyn

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  15. Nicely done.

    And thank you.

    That said, I'm afraid the holiday has turned into a day-you-don't-get-mail sort of thing. What happened to the parades???

    Pearl

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    1. Day You Don't Get Mail."
      That's fantastic!
      On the bright side, we don't get sales ads.

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  16. Thanks to you and all of the veterans who have fought to keep us safe. You're right that we should always remember, and never take our freedom for granted.

    On a lighter note, I'm also impressed that you can still fit into your uniform. Just wondering if anyone has offered to write your official biography yet?
    Julie

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