Veterans Day

November 10, 2012

All Posts, Editorials

The Great War that began in 1914 and finally stopped in 1918 was so terrible that many rational men believed that it would be the last war. Sixty-five million men served in the Great War. Eight and a half million soldiers died. Twenty-two million men were wounded. As is always the case in war, civilian casualties were much greater than military ones.

The tragedy shocked Western Civilization. It had been foreshadowed by the Russo-Japanese War a decade earlier. In 1905, wars had become so rare that most of the countries of the world sent observers to see how the Russians and Japanese would fight a modern war. The war was fought in Manchuria and Korea and one of its forgotten battles was for a hill, called in the modern military style, Hill 203. Possibly 16,000 Japanese died taking the hill overlooking Port Arthur from the Russians. One of the British military observers was Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton. Hamilton watched wave after wave of Japanese charge into Russian machine guns and concluded that the way to defeat entrenched machine guns was with human wave attacks. Hamilton took that lesson into the Great War where he commanded the Allied troops at the Battle of Gallipoli. The Turks against whom the Allies fought had well fortified machine gun and artillery positions. Best estimates are that Hamilton lost 78,000 men killed, 240,000 wounded and divisions more to camp illnesses before he gave up.

Armistice Day

The Great War was both unwinnable and unstoppable and it seemed like a miracle when at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month an armistice finally held and the bloodshed ceased.

The next year President Woodrow Wilson declared that forever after November 11 would be called Armistice Day. His intention was that every year at 11 a.m. the nation would fall silent for two minutes out of respect for the lives, hopes, dreams and innocence that had been lost.

In the 1920s  most states declared Armistice Day a holiday. The President began issuing an annual proclamation in 1926 reminding Americans to consider what had happened. Congress declared Armistice Day a national holiday in 1938 and the next year a new war, soon called the Second World War, began. That war was quickly followed by another war in Korea and in 1954 President Dwight Eisenhower changed the name of the national memorial from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Some Numbers

In 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, Congress voted to divorce the holiday from its historic roots and declared that starting in 1971 Veterans Day would be the fourth Monday in October so the nation could enjoy a long weekend. Popular sentiment forced the commemoration back to November 11 in 1978. In the 1980s, the commemoration began to be confused with Memorial Day, a day to remember war dead, and in recent years Veterans Day has generally become a holiday that celebrates America’s military-industrial-entertainment complex.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were 22.7 million veterans in the United States as of September 2010, the most recent date for which an estimate is available. Six million of them served in peacetime, 5.2 million have served during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars; 2.8 million served during the Korean War; there are 2.6 million living veterans of World War II; and one third of all living veterans, 7.8 million men and women, served during the Vietnam War.

It might be appropriate tomorrow, on November 11, 2012 to take two minutes in the late morning to reflect, as Woodrow Wilson suggested, on those things veterans have seen, heard, felt and learned than non-veterans have not.



24 Responses to “Veterans Day”

  1. Paladin Says:

    Dear Rebel,

    For me, this story and the accompaning video, make some of the other topics that are commented on, seem rather insignificant.

    Long May You Ride,


  2. RVN69 Says:

    I posted this here once before a few years ago, but it deserves to be posted again on this special day. While this is about a particular war in actuality it really is about all warriors from the Spartans thru todays warriors in Afghanistan.

    God Bless us and all those like us since 1775


    They carried P-38 can openers and heat tabs, watches and dog tags, insect repellent, gum, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, salt tablets, compress bandages, ponchos, Kool-Aid, two or three canteens of water, iodine tablets, sterno, LRRP-rations, and C-rations stuffed in socks.

    They carried standard fatigues, jungle boots, bush hats, flak jackets and steel pots.

    They carried the M-16 assault rifle.

    They carried trip flares and Claymore mines, M-60 machine-guns, the M-79 grenade launcher, M-14’s, CAR-15’s, Stoners, Swedish K’s, 66mmLaws, shotguns, .45 caliber pistols, silencers, the sound of bullets, rockets, and choppers, and sometimes the sound of silence.

    They carried C-4plastic explosives, an assortment of hand grenades, PRC-25 radios, knives and machetes. Some carried napalm, CBU’s and large bombs; some risked their lives to rescue others. Some escaped the fear, but dealt with the death and damage. Some made very hard decisions, and some just tried to survive.

    They carried malaria, dysentery, ringworm’s and leaches. They carried the land itself as it hardened on their boots. They carried stationery, pencils, and pictures of their loved ones – real and imagined. They carried love for people in the real world and love for one another. And sometimes they disguised that love:”Don’t mean nothin’!” They carried memories for the most part, they carried themselves with poise and a kind of dignity.

    Now and then, there were times when panic set in, and people squealed or wanted to, but couldn’t; when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said “Dear God”and hugged the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and God and their parents, hoping not to die. They carried the traditions of the United States military, and memories and images of those who served before them.

    They carried grief, terror, longing and their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear: the embarrassment of dishonor. They crawled into tunnels, walked point, and advanced under fire, so as not to die of embarrassment. They were afraid of dying, but too afraid to show it. They carried the emotional baggage of men and women who might die at any moment. They carried the weight of the world.




  3. BobP Says:

    Thank you for this post and the great video. Although I did not serve due to various circumstances, my brother, several cousins, uncles and friends did. Respects to all who served and are now serving our country. Let us all keep their memories alive so they are not forgotten by future generations or ignored by the politicians.

  4. rollinnorth Says:

    “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

  5. Base Says:

    They Did Their Share

    On Veteran’s Day we honor
    Soldiers who protect our nation.
    For their service as our warriors,
    They deserve our admiration.

    Some of them were drafted;
    Some were volunteers;
    For some it was just yesterday;
    For some it’s been many years;

    In the jungle or the desert,
    On land or on the sea,
    They did whatever was assigned
    To produce a victory.

    Some came back; some didn’t.
    They defended us everywhere.
    Some saw combat; some rode a desk;
    All of them did their share.

    No matter what the duty,
    For low pay and little glory,
    These soldiers gave up normal lives,
    For duties mundane and gory.

    Let every veteran be honored;
    Don’t let politics get in the way.
    Without them, freedom would have died;
    What they did, we can’t repay.

    We owe so much to them,
    Who kept us safe from terror,
    So when we see a uniform,
    Let’s say “thank you” to every wearer.

    By Joanna Fuchs

  6. charlie Says:

    Well said Rebel. Lest we forget.

  7. JMacK Says:

    Thank you and respects to every soldier that has given the ultimate sacrifice as well as to those that continue to pave the way for our freedom. American and Canadian. I will remember and so will my children.

    Highest Respects, JMacK

  8. 10Guage Says:

    To the TRUE HEROES with gravel in their guts…
    HONOR in their hearts…
    and the weigth of the FREE world on their shoulders…


    May your HONOR AND SACRIFICE be reveared and remembered by all unfilled the end of time…

  9. sled tramp Says:

    A big thank you to all that served in any capacity in any branch for any length of time.Thank you for your service.And to returning veterans,welcome home.
    sled tramp

  10. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    Happy Veterans Day to the hardest Fighting Forces in the world.

    YYZ Skinhead
    A Grateful Civilian.

  11. Stevo Says:

    In England we say-

    ‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We will remember them’

    It’s from a poem if I recall correctly, but says it all to me.

    Stevo 1%
    Infantry 1986-2002

  12. nowhereman Says:

    Went to arlington today to show respect to a dead marine. Obama walked thru the section and never even approached this mans family mourning at his grave. Its a damn shame the powers that be have no regard or respect for those that gave everything for the ideals of freedom and our great country. Its even worse that those same powers are looking to subvert the freedoms that they fought and died for

  13. Glenn S. Says:

    I’m no veteran but I happened on this and I think it appropriate:

    I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
    But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

    Rudyard Kipling

  14. Ol'LadyRider Says:

    My brother’s and sisters in arms make me proud, this day and every day. My thanks to ALL who have served, and my utmost gratitude and respect are extended especially to those who served in wartime and carry the ghosts of the fallen as their eternal brothers.

  15. anon Says:

    Perhaps by coincidence, I came across a printed copy of “The Troubled Homecoming Of The Marlboro Marine” from a few years ago. After being captured in a famous photo, James Blake Miller returned to the US from Iraq suffering from severe PTSD. Like many before him, he reportedly found a home in an MC; in his case, it was the Highwaymen.

    “Miller acknowledged that the Highwaymen were into “serious business” but said he joined the club for the camaraderie. The uniforms and codes of conduct reminded him of the Marines.”

    For better or worse, it’s a single story that I suspect captures the experiences of many veterans.

    Respect to those who served, on this 11th day of this 11th month.

  16. One Eye Says:

    My Dad was a gunner in the Grand Harbour in Malta during WWII and he was decorated. He would never speak about the war or what he experienced. My Nephew served in Afghanistan and he was severely wounded. By God’s grace he made a miraculous recovery and was awarded the Sacrifice Medal which is tantamount to the Purple Heart. He speaks very, very little of his time overseas. A dear friend, who has since passed, was Special Forces in Viet Nam. He never, ever spoke of his time in the service.I remember being at a swap meet and seeing a collage poster of different things endemic to VN, so I purchased it and it was accompanied by a T-shirt and a medal. When I gave it to him and thaked him for his service,he broke down and was so appreciative.
    I don’t know why I related this other than to say that veterans have been a very large part of my life and I cannot begin to imagine the courage it took, and takes, to be in that place. My Dad and my Bud are gone and I miss them; the Nephew and I are in constant contact.
    To ALL who have served and serve: I express my sincere respect, appreciation and profound thanks for your service and sacrifice. God bless you and keep you.

  17. beedle Says:

    Rvn69, that excerpt is actually from a book called “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.

  18. Jim666 Says:

    @ RVN69.
    Thank you for your service.

    To the rest here that served,
    Thank you !

    Respects Jim666

    U.S. Navy

  19. Tim Says:

    Thank you Rebel, and thank you all the vets, in America, I also especially want to thank everyone In a MC Club in america that is a vet, thank you, and God bless all of you and your MC Clubs, Tim D.

  20. stroker Says:

    To all my brother and sister Veterans:
    Thank you, and Welcome Home.

    To those who thank me and my fellow vets, we ‘preciate it.

  21. troyez Says:

    Amen to all who have said thanks – I thank those vets who served before I did, especially the combat vets, they gave the most, more than I can ever repay. When I meet you I’ll shake your hand and say “welcome home.”

  22. Va.Bob Says:

    Glenn S.@I can’t think of a more appropriate poem on Veterans’ Day.I recall my battalion commander reciting it at a payday formation in ’84 (1/14 INF 25thID Schofield Barracks,Hi.).The locals hated us(fuck ’em).I realize this peace-time enlistment was glorified summer camp,for obvious reasons.I salute and respect combat vets.

  23. Austin Says:

    I thank you all, for serving, supporting or both – and most especially for carrying each other.
    Rebel as always, L&R more than words.
    Proud (as HELL) to be a Blue Star Mother – USMC & Army

  24. Mac Says:

    Right on!

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