Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day and other thoughts

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the "War to End All Wars," (or so everyone at the time thought) also known as World War I. This is a war that the USA partcipated in, albeit towards the end and a war that is definitely seen as being more of a European matter than an American one, even though President Wilson had a lot of input into the events that laid the groundwork for World War II.

The Korean War is often times called the "Forgotten War" because it had the misfortune to be sandwiched between World War II and Vietnam. I think World War I is more of a forgotten war since we don't think of it as much as we do the others and we have a vague idea that it started with the assassination of some royal person in Austria. In school, World War I (WWI) was usually passed over so that we could speed the 1920s and then spend some time in the Great Depression, before we hit World War II (WWII).

According to the article posted at Yahoo, for many of the WWI veterans ('many' being an ironic term here) this will be their last milestone celebration of what was known to them as 'Armistice Day.'

The article can be found here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081111/ts_afp/wwi90yearshistory_081111182918


What we now call 'Veteran's Day' was known as 'Armistice Day,' which commemorated the end of WWI at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. As time went on and more wars sadly were fought, this holiday became 'Veteran's Day' and is a day usually set aside for honoring all veterans.

Usually.

Until September 11th and then until the beginning of the wars in 2003 in Afghanistan and Iraq, Veteran's Day had more resonance for those who lived through past wars. Those who were a generation or two removed were taught by example that this day was a day off to sleep in or catch up on things. I remember that news broadcasts would make "drive by" mentions of Veteran's Day, such that you hardly knew it even happened.

It's different now, with more veterans from the late Boomer, Gen X and early Gen Y generations swelling the ranks. I also think that many of us are realizing that those who came before-the WWI, the WWII and the Korean vets-are leaving us all too soon and they still have stories to tell.

Though the veteran that I had in the family died long before I was born, I did take a moment at 11:00am to think about him and to reflect how he would have thought about how all of the stuff he took as a Black man in the army of WWII would have been worth it since his granddaughter got to grow up in a world with more possibilities than he had and got to vote for a man of African and American descent without any problems. He would have been pleased to know that in recent years, the country whose freedom he defended, even though it was not always good to him, appreciate even more than before the duty and sacrifice that he and his fellow soldiers of all races made on their behalf.



And now for the totally unrelated-I can't resist a good Sulu vs. Kirk grudge match:

http://www.popeater.com/television/article/william-shatner-cant-let-go-of-his/244366

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