Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Remembering Our Veterans on Veterans Day 11/11/11

Many people confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day; however, there is one very grave difference. Memorial Day remembers all those who gave their life in battle or succumbed to injury or illness attributed to their service. Veterans Day remembers all those who served during times of war and peace who are still with us.

It is astonishing the number of people who do not know why we celebrate Veterans Day or why it is the only national holiday other than Christmas, New Years and the 4th of July that was not moved to a Monday to make a long weekend. First of all, holidays are not for the convenience of those celebrating/honoring them. Holidays have meaning and purpose.

Proponents of Veterans Day have fought long and hard to keep Veterans Day on November 11th because its history is part of its celebration. It honors a bright light during a very dark time in world history. It is a moment all should remember. Unfortunately, today, some don’t know anything about it and some even pretend it never happened.
Veterans Day started as Armistice Day. Armistice Day marked the end of WWI. The western front battles ended at 11 am on 11/11/1918… the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” The end of the war to end all wars.

Many countries around the world celebrated it and declared it a national holiday. In 1938, legislation was passed making November 11th a legal holiday to honor WWI vets and called it Armistice Day.

In 1954, after WWI & the Korean War. Veteran organizations urged congress to amend the Act of 1938 by renaming Armistice Day Veterans Day. The legislation was approved 6/1/1954, and allowed for the honoring of all American Veterans.

In 1968, the Uniforms Holiday Bill moved holidays to Mondays ensuring 3-day weekends for federal employees. However, many states refused to follow this bill and continued to celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, 2011. Under the new law, on October 25, 1971 Veterans Day was celebrated with much confusion. On September 20, 1975, President Ford returned Veterans Day to its 11/11 observance by signing it into law. Since 1978, Veterans Day has been observed on November 11th.

Armistice Day remains a holiday in France & Belgium. It was changed to Remembrance Day in all British Commonwealth of Nations (Great Britain, Canada, Australia, etc.).

Many countries hold special ceremonies, commemorative events and parades with active duty military and veterans.

In times of peace, people often forget out Veterans and the struggles they face. Many claim they care for the well being of our service men & women. In times of war, many demand our military personnel be returned to American shores. People don’t understand being away from home, away from the US in some instances, is our military doing their job. It would be like telling a civilian to do their job but don’t show up for work to do it. Alas, I am always reminded of Dad’s words to Mom during the Viet Nam war…

Dad wrote these words to Mom back when he was in Viet Nam while she was pregnant with my older brother. Being in Rhode Island, which has always been a little anti-military, family and friends would press her for why Dad volunteered to join the US Navy at a time of war. She wrote to Dad with the same question. His response has echoed through my life whenever he has had to travel without us or whenever our military has had to do what they do best. He explained to her: he would rather go to foreign shores to fight those who wish to destroy our way of life… the American way of life… than have to fight them here on American soil. He would rather go there, possibly lose his life and never see his unborn child or his wife and family again, knowing he did all he could to protect our country, our way of life and the future of Americans including his wife and unborn child, hoping that child would never see the devastation of war here in the United States… on American soil.

Demands are made for cuts in defense spending constantly; yet, so many don’t realize a great deal of defense cuts come in the form of cutting veterans programs, health care and such.

Veterans’ health care is a prime example of why the federal government should not meddle in health care. Many veterans struggle with adjusting back to life outside a war zone. Many veterans struggle to adjust after life long careers in the armed forces. Many veterans struggle with physical handicaps, results of injuries of war. Many struggle with mental handicaps acquired on the battlefield, but are not so readily seen by others. Many veterans suffer illness from exposure to chemical and biological weapons, and in some cases, these weapons are used by our own government in the forms of vaccines, which are suppose to protect military personnel, defoliating herbicides, as is the case of Agent Orange, and other chemicals and such by the enemy. Documented illnesses the federal government refuses to recognize.

Nearly 30 years after Viet Nam, the federal government finally recognized diabetes among Viet Nam veterans exposed to Agent Orange were higher than normal and attributed these findings to Agent Orange. However, the federal government has yet to make the same connection for Graves Disease, heart disease and cancer. Veterans of the Gulf War, too, are having difficulty getting the federal government to recognize service-related illnesses.

The reason… money. It is costly to treat the service-related illnesses. It is better, I suppose, in the eyes of the government, to allow these brave men and women to die of illnesses received while fighting for the freedoms of all Americans than to spend the money on their care. It is a grave warning to all who support the socialist agenda of government funded health care. I have been to the VA hospitals. I have witnessed the waiting these men and women are put through. I have first hand knowledge of the war they still fight, this time with our own government, just to be compensated for what happened to them many years ago. Viet Nam veterans are the fastest, youngest dieing veterans. Why? Because the government refuses to acknowledge them and the lasting effects of Agent Orange. These brave veterans are not counted in the casualties of a war lost in Washington DC. Contrary to popular belief, the United States was winning the Viet Nam war until Washington DC started caving to whiny protesters. Now, as these veterans age into their 60s, they are being abandoned, once again by their government who would rather they die of their war-related illnesses than offer them the health care they so rightly deserve.
Gulf War veterans are now experiencing similar issues in dealing with the government trying to get the proper care for what has become known as Gulf War Syndrome, a condition the US Government either doesn’t know what causes it or has decided to keep it under wraps. It is sometimes thought that Saddam Hussein used chemical/biological weapons against our veterans, but one has to wonder if it was not our own government since they refuse to acknowledge it.

On this Veterans Day, we honor all veterans from war and peace time. It’s been 93 years since that 1st Armistice Day. The day that ended the war to end all wars.

Obviously, the title didn’t bear true, as we approach the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and we recently remembered the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. It has been a mere 58 & 38 years since the end of the Korean and Viet Nam wars, respectively. It has been 20 years since the end of the Gulf War.

The future does not look as if it will bring peace anytime soon; so, we continue to honor our veterans. We owe them our lives, our way of life and our freedom. We owe them so much more than we could ever repay.

Lest we forget
So, this Veterans Day, and everyday, when you see a veteran or one of our brave men or women in uniform, go up to them and thank them for their sacrifices. When you see a red poppy on a lapel remember this…

In Flanders Fields
by Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The following is a list of websites for information and/or donation. If you would like to offer assistance to our veterans or if you are, or you know, a veteran, who needs assistance, please visit these sites…

  1. www.DAV.org Disabled American Veterans: they are usually available at the VA hospitals. Every veteran should contact the DAV for support even if you do not need them at the moment. They can help you file any necessary paperwork to make claims for illnesses and help you file for benefits. They also help spouses.
  2. www.TheVeteransSupport.org The Veterans Support: helps veterans pay utility bills, rent, mortgage & provide housing assistance for homeless vets.
  3. www.TheVeteransSite.com
  4. www.woundedheroes.org
  5. www.gulfwarvets.com Great site for info on Gulf War Syndrome
  6. www.veteranstoday.com & www.veteranstoday.com/2010/08/08/link-between-graves-disease-and-agent-orange/
  7. www.nvlsp.org National Veteran Legal Services Program: great resources on this site including information on Ischemic Heart Disease in Viet Nam veterans.
  8. www.veteransandfamilies.org provides info, support and assistance for transitioning from military to civilian life.
  9. www.freedomisnotfree.com aids wounded service members, their families and the families of the fatally wounded.
  10. www.ptsd.va.gov the official VA site for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  11. www.ptsdhelp.net network of help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  12. www.patriotpaws.org provides dog training, service dogs for disabled American veterans
  13. www.vetdogs.org dogs helping vets
  14. www.hero-dogs.org/veterans.html service dogs for America’s heroes
  15. www.va.gov the official site of the Veterans Administration

No comments:

Post a Comment