Sunday is Veterans Day, a federal holiday that commemorates and honors every veteran who has served and is serving in America's armed forces.
The roots of this day of honor are a century old. Nov. 11, 1918, was Armistice Day, the day when world leaders signed the documents to end World War I — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. That moment is so ingrained in the world's history that French and German leaders will meet today at what remains of the Wagon of Compiegne, the carriage-turned-office where the Allies and Germany signed that armistice.
Veterans past and present — from the Revolutionary War to our present-day warriors, are honored and memorialized with speeches, prayers, pride and tears. It hasn't always been this way.
Ask a Vietnam War veteran how he or she was welcomed home in the early 1970s, and you'll likely get a hard stare as those painful memories are dredged up. Veterans from earlier wars left mentally or physically damaged may have received care, but many were not cared for in the way they should have been. To this day, we struggle as a country to take care of the physical and mental health of our veterans.
According to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 496,777 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive in 2018. Veterans of more recent wars, conflicts and peacetime service are gradually aging and finding themselves in need of help that can be provided through various veterans' organizations and the Veterans Administration.
There are those who believe "veteran" is reserved for people who served in war time, and those who served on hostile ground. We prefer to use the designation to honor all who have served overseas and stateside, in war time and in peace. Anyone who chooses to wear the uniform and bear arms to serve, protect and defend the United States is worth celebrating, thanking and remembering.
Sunday, on Veterans Day, we ask that you consider attending a Veterans Day ceremony, observing a moment of silence at 11 a.m., shaking a hand of someone in uniform, or just paying silent tribute to those who have served and continue to serve our country.
On behalf of a grateful nation, we offer our heartfelt thanks to all those who have served and are serving in America's armed forces and to their families who selflessly support their efforts.