Monday is Veterans Day, 24 hours set aside for the nation to salute and share stories about the servicemen and women who, with astonishing selflessness and courage, risk body and soul to protect an abstract philosophy called democracy.
It is also the 100th anniversary of what was known first as Armistice Day and later as Remembrance Day.
The observance date, 11/11, is fixed. Veterans have been honored on this date, and this date alone, since 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation.
Veterans Day differs from Memorial Day in meaning, but just a little.
Memorial Day honors the brave ones who died in service to the nation. Veterans Day pays tribute to all men and women who donned uniforms and gave all they could to their country.
The combined armed services including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, comprise one of the largest military forces in the world.
As of September 2018, more than 1.3 million people are on active military duty, with almost 900,000 more in the reserve forces, according to data from the U.S. Department of Defense. Nearly 2.5 million men and women are assigned to perform a superhuman task: keep more than 300 million Americans safe and secure.
It’s also important to remember as we honor our veterans Monday that everyone who wears the uniforms of various military branches do so voluntarily. The draft was abolished 47 years ago.
These men and women volunteer to undergo rigorous training and take up arms, knowing they may be called upon at any time to charge into battle against unknown foreign enemies and lay down their lives in defense of the nation.
The world is a much different place today than it was just a year ago. Threats of war surfaced in Iran, domestic terrorism is generating more fear than it has in the last quarter-century. Alliances once thought to be impregnable are breaking down. We live in a time of moral turpitude in government and corporations and an era of social incivility and intolerance.
The men and women who serve — even in peacetime — are far from home. They often miss the significant things in life such as births, holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings and funerals. We take them for granted in the course of life. Military men and women savor them.
When conflicts arise, service members pack up and leave their loved ones, knowing they might not return.
Voters spoke on Tuesday and it is likely that our service men and women did something, somewhere, at some time, to protect this freedom. On Monday, remember our military men and women are the people who work to defend the simple freedom to elect our leaders and many other freedoms. Here’s hoping that we can tell veterans Monday that we are grateful for their sacrifices.