Veteran’s Day

The United States is a great nation, but it would be very hard for a nation to remain great, if that nation did not have a strong military. These days, national security is not guaranteed. That makes our military men and women absolutely essential. All too often, I don’t think we give our veterans the respect and recognition they deserve.

Veterans and soldiers are unique characters. Most of us are not interested in running off to some other country at the drop of a hat to defend people we don’t even know. Nevertheless, when a people are being oppressed, it is a soldier who is called to defend them. These soldiers leave their homes and families, often for months at a time, and go off to another country to defend strangers. They miss births, first steps, school plays, graduations, and so much more. They miss tucking their children in at night, dropping them off at school in the morning, watching their sporting events, and having weekend barbecues, just to name a few. By the time they have left the military, their children are often mostly grown up. It is time they can never get back, and yet they consider it time well spent, because they did their duty and they saved lives. What more could we ask of them?

Veterans Day is a day when we honor those who served and upon their discharge, came back home. In this case, while it does honor veterans who have gone to their Heavenly home, it is not about those killed in action. Theirs is a different day…Memorial Day, the day we remember those lost in battle. All of these men and women served their country and the world, but a veteran came home and lived out their life…hopefully with all their limbs attached, but many times that was not to be either. Those veterans, and those with PTSD need our help badly, but all veterans, no matter what the outcome of their service was, deserve our complete and total respect. Veterans Day began on November 11, 1919, making this year the 101st anniversary of that date. To all those among us who served, thank you for your service, and to those veterans who have gone home, including my dad, Allen Spencer and many family members, I thank you!! Happy Veterans Day.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world without wars, so our soldiers are a vital part of our national security. Of course, we hope and pray that all of our soldiers will eventually come home from war, be discharged from military service, and become veterans. Sadly that is not always the case. For those who do not come home, we have Memorial Day, to honor their memory. Veteran’s Day, however, is a day to honor those who served, and then came home and went back to their lives. For those who are veterans, we take this opportunity to thank them for their service and their sacrifice, because they did sacrifice. They left their families at home, and went out to fight for people they don’t even know, and probably never will. We, here at home, have no way to really repay them for their acts of selflessness, so all we can do is thank them for their service. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem enough. How could we possibly repay them? We can never give them back the lost time with family, the memories, the births of children, and the multiple firsts that go with them. Those things are gone forever for the soldier, because they chose to go out and protect their country, and the people in it.

Our soldiers are an amazing group of people…the best in the world. They have blessed the people of this nation in so many ways. Their service goes beyond just fighting a war. They show kindness to the people in war ravaged countries, sometimes risking their own lives to do so. The biggest problems with civilians in war zones, is that you never truly know if the people you meet need help, or if they are out to kill you. Nevertheless, our soldiers set aside the worries and fears, and go out to do their duty. That is what makes us proud. We wish it was unnecessary for them to go, but we are thankful when they do, because we know that we are safer.

I wish all our soldiers could come home and that peace on earth could become a reality, but that is not to be. Nevertheless, to all our veterans, I thank you for your time in the service. We would not be where we ar today without you. Happy Veterans Day to all of you, from a grateful nation!!

This day…Armistice Day was sometimes called the end of the war to end all wars. The phrase came from a book, and was really an idealistic statement, because as we all know there will always be a war somewhere. Nevertheless, it must have been overwhelming to think of basically the whole world at war. I’m sure the writer of the book, H G Wells, as well as many other people, hoped that through this awful war, humans could somehow learn to live with one another in peace. While that was not to be, this war, like every war, finally comes to an end. Armistice Day marks the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning, on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. That was, of course, 100 years ago today. Armistice Day is a national holiday in France. It coincides with Remembrance Day in England, and Veterans Day in the United States, and all three are really commemorating the same thing…the end of World War I. And all three are observed as a time to remember those heroes who served their country in that and all other wars. It is a day to remember those who fought and then returned home, but we can’t forget those who didn’t return home either.

Because World War I ended on November 11, 1918, we have continued to remember November 11 as Veterans Day, Armistice Day, and Remembrance Day in honor of our soldiers. The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year, but the Armistice was the beginning. It paved the way, and sometimes that is what is needed the most at a certain low time in history, or in life. Just a glimmer of hope can change the way we feel about things in a big way. It doesn’t matter what name is attached to the day, its all about the meaning of the day that matters. Our veterans have done so much for people they don’t even know, and they all deserve to be recognized for their very heroic acts.

The date is a national holiday in France, England, the United States, and was also declared a national holiday in many Allied nations. In some countries Armistice Day coincides with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, and other public holidays. Armistice Day is not celebrated in Germany, but a German national day of mourning, Volkstrauertag, has been observed on the Sunday closest to 16 November since 1952. However the day is observed, it is always a day to remember the sacrifice of our soldiers. The day is always celebrated as a day to honor those who served. We can all relate to that, because we all know a veteran, and we all consider them to be honorable people. So, no matter how each country celebrates it or what they call it, we honor our veterans today. Happy Veterans Day!!

In a time when our nation is in such turmoil, I find myself appreciating our veterans even more than I did before. As a proud daughter of a World War II veteran, I always had a feeling of awe when it came to the members of our military. I never thought of a soldier without associating it with a hero, because that is what they are…each and every one of them. It takes the heart of a hero to set aside their own life, time with family, and their safety to protect the rights and lives of others…people they don’t know…who aren’t in their own country.

Soldiers are a special kind of hero. Like our first responders, they run into danger while others are running away, but a soldier does that in countries that aren’t their own. They have no stake in that country, but they know that without their help, the people of that nation are going to continue to live oppressed. The soldier fights for those who cannot fight for themselves. Evil dictators cringe when the soldiers are sent in, because there is a good possibility that the dictator’s days are numbered. War is never an easy journey for the soldier, but he or she knows that they are needed. They know that for every enemy death…a life is saved, and while that may be putting things a little bit simplistically, in a very real sense, it is true. In a war, the enemy must be beaten, in order to win the war, and thereby save the innocent.

Going off to war changes a person, and so does training to go to war. The minute a soldier joins up, there is a possibility of going to war, and the soldier has to face that fact. That’s where the heart of the hero kicks in. Deep down inside, the soldier has knows that what they are doing is important…it matters. Theirs is often a thankless job, and is sometimes treated with great disrespect, but when they are needed, they answer the call, nevertheless. It is our soldiers and their strength, that usually keeps our homeland free from attack. It’s not that we have never had attacks on our soil, but a strong, at the ready military force, makes our enemies think twice about trying to attack us here…and for that, I thank our military men and women. Our nation is very blessed to have our soldiers. To our active duty soldiers and our veterans of all wars, Happy Veterans Day!!

Today is Veteran’s Day, and most of us have a Veteran we think of when we think of this day.  They are the heroes who served their country, protecting our nation and other nations around the world. They willingly answer the call when the enemy rears its ugly head and we have to go in and push them back, so the freedoms that we so love can continue to exist for us and for other nations. My dad was one of those heroes.

Dad joined the Army Air Forces on March 19, 1943 at the age of 18. He would turn 19 on April 27, 1943. He had been employed at Douglas Aircraft Company Inc since May 19, 1942, so I’m sure the Army Air Forces could see that he had experience in the mechanics of airplanes. Dad deployed with his crew in a brand new B-17G Bomber to Great Ashfield, Suffolk, England in April of 1944. Dad was trained as the flight engineer. That is a position of great importance on a plane, in that he knew everything about the plane, and if anything went wrong, he was the one who had to fix it. If he couldn’t fix it, they would likely crash, so he needed to know everything about the plane, and Dad did. Once when the landing gear would not come down, Dad had to hang upside down in the open bomb bay, while his crew held on to him, and hand crank the landing gear until it was down and locked. I’m quite sure there were many sighs of relief when the gear was finally down. Dad was also the top turret gunner on the B-17G Bomber, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, signifying that he had shot down four German planes, and two Gold Stars, signifying that he had taken part in two major aerial engagements. In all he would take part in 35 bombing missions before he was honorably discharged on October 3, 1945.

During the time Dad was in the service, he sent most of his pay home in the form of war bonds, telling his mother that if she needed the money, she was to use any or all of it. He wrote letters to her as often as he could…his way of letting her know he was ok. He worried more about his mom worrying about him than he did about himself. He was a hero to his mom, as well as to his country. And he carried that heroic attitude through the rest of his life…always putting the needs of those he loved and even those he didn’t know ahead of his own. That is what makes a true hero. That is what my dad was. I am so proud of you Dad. I love and miss you very much.

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