Today–November 11th–is Veteran’s Day in the United States. As a child, I learned about veterans because my grandmother’s older brother Nels was a member of the 1st North Dakota Infantry Company I in World War I. She kept on display in her home a photo of Nels in his uniform, and she kept the honor of his service close to her heart. Veterans Day marked the end of World War I when major hostilities ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the armistice with Germany went into effect. Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
My father was a veteran, a member of the Army Air Corps during World War II. He enlisted in 1941 and was honorably discharged in 1945. He didn’t talk a lot about the War, but I know that like many others, that experience changed and molded him into the father, grandfather, and citizen that I always admired. He was intensely patriotic, a 50+ year member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He believed in God and country and did his best to uphold his responsibilities as a citizen of the country he loved. When my father died, and we moved my mother into an apartment that better suited her needs, we found my father’s
uniform packed away in a drawer. As I looked at the tailored wool dress jacket, and held it up, its size reminded me that my father was just 20 years old when he went to war. He was a young man, just entering adulthood. Thankfully, he came home to marry my mother and raise my sister and me. But, the thought that he might not have returned caused me to reflect about the families that have lost their loved ones. Thank you, Dad, for your service.
As a college professor, over the past decade, more and more of my students have been in the military; many having served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. When they are in my classes, they seem like every other student; and yet, they have a maturity that is beyond their years. They have experienced the war and service in a way that many of us have not. We ask them to protect and defend our country, our people, and our way of life. They make me proud every day and I tell them so whenever they reveal something about their military service.
Recently, my daughter ran in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. She described the marathon as “an unforgettable experience.” She said it was so thrilling “to run through a city that has such a special place in [her] heart, moving to see the service men and women along the course, and exhilarating to climb the final hill and cross the finish line in Arlington Cemetery.” She personally raised $640 for Hire Heroes USA, and her team raised nearly $30,000. All of the funds are used to help veterans successfully transition out of the military and into the civilian job sector.
Veteran’s Day gives us all a chance to thank those who have served and continue to serve their country. While in different contexts, Lions share the call to service. Thank you, veterans. Thank you, Lions.