Originally known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day was first celebrated Nov. 11, 1919, on the first anniversary of the end of World War I. It became an annual observance in 1926 and a national holiday in 1938.
When Veterans Day became the official name in 1954, the legislation noted the day was set aside to honor all Americans who served their country during war or peacetime.
Each year, communities around the nation hold parades, many churches recognize veterans during one of their services and a special ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Capturing their stories
At 99, Terry is among 24.4% of the 16.5 million veterans living in the U.S. age 75 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
That’s nearly 4 million who served in a time when news traveled much slower, and technology was vastly different. It’s also a large number who have seen many changes in our nation and world since those early days of their service.
Capturing their stories and listening to their perspectives would be a gift to us as well as them, even if they can’t bear to share all they’ve experienced because the pain is too deep.
We sometimes forget the burden many veterans carry, especially those who served during wartime.
They work to protect us not only on the battlefield, but also when they return home and tuck the haunting images down deep.
Advocating on their behalf
Sacrifice and selflessness come to mind when I think of those who serve, have served and will eventually serve.
I’m also grateful more mental health resources reportedly are being made available for our veterans. Improving the quality of care at VA hospitals also seems to have surfaced as a priority.
It makes me sad to think someone could serve in the U.S. military and be among those fighting for our freedoms, but return home without the quality of life we expect for ourselves.
We appreciate all of you who advocate for our veterans in the various areas needing attention.
To the families of veterans: we want you to know we see you too. You sacrifice as well when your loved one enlists and especially when he or she is called out for duty.
As Veterans Day approaches each year, I’m drawn to those from WWII. They seem larger than life to me.
‘Live a life worthy of living’
I also recall the sentiment shared with me in recent years from a veteran close to my age:
“When I’ve been in uniform throughout my career, random people have walked up to thank me for my service or buy my lunch,” he said. “There also have been times when applause broke out as I walked through a restaurant or an airport.
“While I appreciate their appreciation, what I really wanted to say was, ‘Don’t thank me. … Just live a life worthy of living so my service and the sacrifices I made for you were not in vain.’”