Veterans Day

Veterans Day

  • Today in Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
  • Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
  • 10 November 2019

Tomorrow is the 101stanniversary of the armistice which ended the hostilities of the Great War. World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles. It can be argued that the Versailles treaty set the stage for the second chapter of the Great War that is commonly called World War II. The map of the world changed considerably after the armistice and still reflects those changes today. The Ottoman Empire was dismembered into the many countries of the Middle East. With the fall of Czarist Russia during the last year of the Great War, the rise of the Soviet Union precipitated the expansion of Communism. The subsequent wars and conflicts that marked the remainder of the twentieth century are directly contingent upon the armistice of 1918. The world powers were exhausted by the blood and treasure expended. Despite the military victories of the European powers, the colonial empires of Great Britain and France would never recover. At the conclusion of the Great War, the United States expanded American influence around the world to inevitably become a superpower after 1945. The experience of the twentieth century was marked by nearly continuous warfare. During times of conflict and the brief periods of peace, the cost of our bellicose desire has been worn on the faces of our veterans. It is suitable and right that on Veterans Day we honor those who have served our nation honorably and discharged their duty well. It was President Eisenhower who issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation to honor the American veterans of all wars on the observance of Armistice Day. It is the day we honor those who have served our nation and are yet among us in witness to their service. Memorial Day is particularly reserved for those who have died for their country and for those veterans who are no longer living. Armed Forces Day on May 16this designated to honor those who are currently serving in our military.

 

As a child of a war veteran, I grew up in the “boomer” generation. The mobilization of the nation for the war effort substantially transformed the character of America. My father never spoke of his experience during the war. Like so many other veterans he was grateful to have survived and only wished to pursue the life he must have envisioned during his deployment. No one despises war more than the veteran who has experienced the horror of it. My father saw his participation as a duty that needed to be performed. As a patriot he did what he had to do, but neither was he proud of what had to be done. It was a chapter in his life that was over and he would spend the remainder of his time contributing to the restoration of what was lost. He was saddened by the subsequent wars in Korea and Vietnam, but never lost his patriotic sensibility for the American way of life. He always understood his duty and had the strength of character to hold the conflicting reality of war and desire for peace in a tenuous balance.

 

The conflicts of the past have continued into the present. Our new century began with another attack more devastating than Pearl Harbor. As the current war sporadically expands like brushfires on the land, the burden is visible on the faces of the veterans. The damaged lives of our veterans carry the story of those who pay the price for war. There is no glory in their demeanor, but they deserve our admiration and respect for their commitment and obedience to their patriotic duty. The liberty we so often take for granted is continually defended and preserved by those who are willing to pay the price. We are humbled by their sacrifice and grateful for their service. May our merciful God grant the blessings of peace on all our veterans.