Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank A Veteran

The above clip is a lighthearted reminder about an important and ever growing segment of our population: veterans.  In their honor, today is Remembrance Day for all of the Commonwealth nations and Veterans Day in the United States. But regardless of what you call it, the meaning and intent is the same: this is a day to remember and pay respect to our veterans.

Also known as Poppy Day in Great Britain, this day has been observed since the end of World War I to mark the end of the fighting between the Allied forces and Germany. The fighting is said to have formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Today ceremonies are held all over the world in the Commonwealth countries and even in those countries who host Commonwealth grave sites. Here in Europe, November 11th is recognized as a national holiday and as such businesses are shuttered, schools are closed and work stops. A ceremony will be held here in Mons today and when we were in Albania we joined our British peers and attended the ceremony at the Commonwealth Cemetery in Tirana each year. The rituals and ceremony surrounding this solemn day are a constant reminder of the sacrifices that have been made, and continue to be made, by the young men and women who defend their countries on a daily basis.   

In America the day is slightly different. We recognize Veterans Day, as the time to remember and show appreciation to the veterans of all of our wars.  Not to be confused with Memorial Day which remembers our war dead, Veterans Day recognizes everyone who has served in the American Armed Forces.  Unlike many federal holidays in the United States, Veterans Day is always celebrated on the 11th of November rather than the Monday closest to the actual day.  Ceremonies are still held throughout the country but for too many Americans, Veterans Day is just another day off from work and school, a day to hang out with friends and family, and a day to shop the holiday sales. (In true capitalist form, retailers have jumped on the bandwagon with numerous sales in honor of Veterans Day. Are their attempts patriotic and in line with the intent of the day or simply a marketing ploy to draw in more consumers? If you want to really recognize and thank veterans, how about making those sales available only to them?) But I digress....  

So today, please take a moment to stop and say thank you to a veteran.  It is only because of their sacrifice that we are able to enjoy the freedoms so many of us take for granted.  I know I will be giving my thanks and I hope you do too. 

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