There are a few secular holidays that we hold here in the US that really matter. July 4th comes to mind as well as Memorial Day. The rest are really just glorified days off for federal employees and bankers with the exception of Veterans Day. Veterans Day is, in my mind, at least, a humbling day. It is a day where we can reflect on those who, voluntary or not, put on a uniform to serve their country.
Of course this day didn’t start out as a day to celebrate veterans originally. It was in 1918 when the armies of the West and the German aggressor came to a peace agreement effectively ending what would become known as World Way I. This November day, the 11th month, the 11th day, the 11th hour would come to symbolize the peace agreement of the “war to end all wars”. Various countries in the West came to celebrate the day in sundry ways. Over time we here in the states came to celebrate the day as “All Veterans Day” which was later shortened to “Veterans Day.”
The older I get, the more this holiday means to me. Why? Well, the more I look around, and the more I see, the more I recognize the full measure of hardship that those who signed a lease of their soul and body to Uncle Sam endure, regardless of their branch of service. In just my own little sphere of contacts, I have known veterans who served from WWII era all the way up those currently serving in various locations around the world. All of these folks have some kind of scar, some way their body or mind was wrecked during their service, even those who didn’t serve that long or were never in combat.
Yes, these vets received a paycheck, they received GI bill benefits—most of these veterans volunteered for the service. But the very act of stepping off of a bus at a recruit depot, completing training and the deprivations that go along with it are to an exceptional degree greater than any hurdles we civilians will ever endure in the school of hard knocks or the party school of our choice. And this doesn’t even figure in the path their military career took them after training. Just among the vets that are closest to me, one guy is nearly stone deaf from firing M110 howitzers into various impact areas around my home state. Another fellow has a wrecked back from working on helicopters in Okinawa and Hawaii. Another fellow has bad knees, and hearing loss from his time as 11 Bravo. My pastor, an artillery officer, suffers hearing loss and PTSD from his time in Iraq.
Two of these guys stepped on the two-way range, and two did not. What I’m trying to say, not very well it would seem, is that I am humbled and honored that these vets and the unnamed millions of other vets suffered privation, separation from their families, and injuries of all sorts while I could live in blissful tranquility the American Dream free from any obligations to serve my fellow citizen.
Humbled, honored, and thankful, very thankful, for each of our vets this Veterans Day and every day of the year. God Bless you all and God bless the USA.
Mark Davis, avid outdoorsman, family man, and outdoors writer is the social media specialist for Umarex USA.