Monday this great nation will mark two occasions, one fresh in many of our minds and the other mostly forgotten.
Nov. 11 is Veterans Day and the 101st anniversary of the end of fighting in World War I, which at the time was the most destructive four years in human history. The two are forever intertwined, even if the soldiers, sailors and Marines from a little over a century ago have slipped the minds of modern people.
This Veterans Day, it is right and just to honor all those among us who put their lives on the line for freedom.
We commend them and are thankful for those who took time away from the hustle and bustle of modern-day life to attend Saturday’s Veterans Day Parade sponsored by the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office. That show of support means a lot to the men and women who have put on this nation’s uniform.
As the backbone of this nation, veterans have defended freedom around the globe in peacetime and in war. They deserve their own day of thanks and reverence. We should not forget their sacrifices like we’ve largely forgotten those who came before them.
We must also remember the origins and meaning behind Veterans Day. The holiday began as Armistice Day, which marked the end of hostilities along the Western Front during World War I. At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, the guns of war fell silent, and canisters of poisonous gas stopped raining from the sky.
It took a sea of blood, sweat and tears to restore peace to this Earth, and even then it was fleeting. Perhaps 100 years later, our nation tends to forget because the wounds still linger. The Great War was just the beginning of our modern-day problems. On different battlefields around the globe, our nation’s troops continue to deal with the fallout from World War I.
Before the war’s end, radical communists had overthrown the Russian government, leading to years of chilly tension between Americans and Soviets.
Our troops fought against their expansion in Korea and Vietnam and are still dealing with the lingering effects of Soviets today in Afghanistan.
War-torn Germany turned to Nazism, which took another sea of blood, sweat and tears to overthrow during World War II. The Ottoman Empire, which once ruled most of the Middle East, was carved up following the war. Britain gained dominion of Iraq, but coups and insurrections eventually led them to Saddam Hussein, who America spent two wars removing from power.
Perhaps we forget because all the veterans who saw the sun rise over the burned tree stumps in no man’s land along the trenches of the Western Front have passed from this earth.
As the number of World War II veterans begin to dwindle, we wonder if their memories will suffer the same fate. What about those from longer but smaller scale wars like Iraq and Afghanistan over the next 50 years?
War is an uneasy topic to talk about, and volunteering to possibly face it is an act of utmost courage. We must continue to honor our veterans and educate civilians of their work.
People who never experienced the rat-infested trenches in France, the smell of a concentration camp in Germany or the intense fear that comes with an ambush in the jungle must remember that they are free because of those who did.