President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day in 1919 – the one-year anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, the end of WWI. The day was set aside to honor those who fought for our country during what was then known as “the war to end all wars.” Today, the holiday encompasses veterans of all wars, celebrating their patriotism, honoring their valor and recognizing the sacrifices they made. Most Americans view Veterans Day as simply a day off. People don’t remember its true meaning. Veterans Day isn’t celebrated and honored the way it was meant to be. It is sad that in our high-paced, fast lifestyles, we cannot take a small time out of our day to honor all American veterans. I saw no reference at all on campus or in my classes to this national holiday. The media gave it thirty seconds of airtime at best. What a shame for the over 620,000 Americans who died in the American Civil War, the over 400,000 in WWII and, today, the over 4,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan. It does not matter if you are for or against the Iraq War or against any type of war. Today, there are over 17 million war veterans alive in the U.S. The ultimate value that our veterans have fought and died for is freedom.
America is the country of freedom. We were the first to declare that government exists to serve men; men do not exist to serve government. We were the first to proclaim that all men are equal before the law. We were the first to say that each individual has inalienable rights – the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. The best way we can honor our veterans and give real meaning to Veterans Day – aside from ceremonies honoring their dedication and bravery – is to promise that we will go to war only when America’s interests as a free nation are threatened, and wage it in the uncompromising pursuit of victory. Mail isn’t delivered on Veterans Day, but the next day the mailbox may contain your cell phone bill. The one bill you won’t get is for your freedom. That bill has already been paid. The least we can do is take five minutes out of our day, get off Facebook, stop text messaging on our cell phones and remember all those who have fought – and in some cases given their lives – so we can live freely today.
– Ian Michael Rogers