2016 | Week of November 7 | #1176
In the summer of 2010, I took a trip I had long wanted to take—a journey that took me to such places as the Green at Lexington, Massachusetts. I wandered around that now peaceful park, remembering as I took in the minuteman statue and the other memorials, that in April 1775 that Green had been anything but peaceful as the opening shots of America’s War for Independence were fired by our early infantry.
My Massachusetts travels that summer also took me to Bunker Hill, where more of our citizen militia stood for freedom, many paying the supreme sacrifice.
On that same trip, I boarded “Old Ironsides,” formally the USS Constitution. As I toured this incredible still-active warship, it wasn’t hard to envision those early sailors manning the cannons, swabbing the decks, running up the mast and doing all the things required to keep a tall sailing vessel, made for war, at the ready so it could take on and withstand the attacks by enemy ships in the War of 1812.
An earlier trip had put me at Gettysburg—a sobering national park—a monument to the tens of thousands of soldiers who gave their lives in this nation’s gruesome Civil War.
Then there are the pictures I’ve seen of World War I, the “war to end all wars,” where members of our armed forces were once again called to serve in order to secure our liberty. The eleventh day of the eleventh month at 11 in the morning, in 1919, the armistice was signed, ending that war. Peace was all anyone wanted…but it was elusive.
And once again, in 1941, America found herself calling up her young men and women to serve—the men to the front lines in the Pacific and European theaters, the women to critical support roles at home and abroad.
In November 1943, within two weeks of turning 19, my own dad boarded the Queen Mary luxury liner turned into a troop transport ship and headed to Europe as a part of the U.S. Army. He and the thousands of soldiers with him landed just in time to be part of the Battle of the Bulge.
Then there was Korea and Viet Nam and Desert Storm and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—and numerous other skirmishes, battles and wars where our American military have distinguished themselves.
One place that draws much of America’s military history together is the war memorials in Washington, D.C. They are poignant, and they remind visitors in so many ways of the price that has been paid for our heritage of freedom.
Veterans’ Day should never be glibly celebrated. The cost of having such a day is much too high for people to ignore this day when we celebrate the veterans whom we still have among us and remember those who are no longer with us. Whether they have seen action on the front lines or not, these men and women have, by and large, served this nation with distinction.
We no longer have a drafted military. We now recruit and enlist young men and women into our armed forces. These are people who want to serve; they know the potential cost, especially during a time of war. At the least, they know they are leaving family, friends, jobs, and security to go serve their country. It is so very true that freedom has never been free; someone is always paying the price.
Passing on to the next generation an appreciation for veterans of the armed services is critical. What a great opportunity November 11, Veterans’ Day, provides each of us to share with those coming behind us how important America’s military is. Talking about each branch of the military—the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, and the Coast Guard—and about family members who have served in these branches is an excellent way to transmit to the next generation an appreciation for the veterans and for those currently serving.
No, our military isn’t perfect; however, it is still the finest in the world. And what it is today is built on those who have served in days gone by—from the Minutemen of the American War for Independence to the highly trained forces we have today. It’s certainly appropriate that we give these veterans their due one day a year. Here’s to you, veterans! On behalf of all of us at Wisconsin Family Council, thank you for serving.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”