Friday, November 11, 2011
Freedom isn't Free
As we sit in our own homes and live our safe and peaceful lives, it is very easy to let it slip to the back of our minds that the reason that we have this peace and freedom is because of the burden shouldered by our soldiers past and present. However, as I paraphrase the words of the great George Washington (one of the veterans we remember today) at Valley Forge, nothing is as important as the fidelity of the American soldier.
The history of Veterans Day goes back to the end of World War I. This war had been so bad that it was referred to as the "War to end all wars." At the time, people truly believed that this was the low point in modern history and we could never see another struggle so horendous (we with the benefit of hindsight know better). The official armistice, or ceasefire, of WWI occurred on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.
Beginning in November 1919, the European and American world began to honor Armistice Day as a way to remember those who had served and those who had fallen in the War to End All Wars. President Woodrow Wilson made this comment, "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" Our first Armistice Day celebrations included parades and a suspension of all business during the 11th hour of the day.
Over time, as the United States was involved in more wars, Armistice Day was sort of expanded. Rather than simply set aside a time to remember the veterans of WWI, the day became Remembrance Day in Europe and Veterans Day in the US to honor all the veterans of the Armed Forces.
As you wake up today and set about on your normal schedule, please take a moment to remember that freedom truly isn't free. If you have the chance, hug a veteran, shake their hand and thank them for their service to this country. Remember that it isn't just remembering those who are fighing now or those who fought in World War I. Our idea of fighting for our freedom goes all the way back to the American Revolution and gives us a grand history of the American Armed Forces.