November 11, 2016 12:07:36 PM
Veterans Day doesn't have the longest holiday history. Though it had a name change in 1954, it began as and it remains a day that expresses the value and commitment to world peace and those who work to keep it a reality.
The date for Veterans Day stems from the original armistice agreement reached for the cease fire of World War I occurring on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
Then the First World War was considered the "war to end all wars." In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day. That proclamation of hope for lasting peace never envisioned another war of such magnitude as the one that had just ended.
Congress recognized it as a national holiday after over half the states had already declared it a legal holiday.
World War II underscored the improbability of having lasting peace. After enduring the even greater conflict of World War II, in 1954 the name was officially changed from Armistice to Veteran's Day.
In 1971 this holiday was grouped with the others that floated around their original dates to be celebrated on a Monday thus allowing a three-day weekend for federal workers. Because the date itself carried such historical significance, it was returned to its original date in 1975. Like Independence Day observed on July 4th, Veteran's Day is observed on Nov. 11th no matter the day of the week it falls on.
Veteran's Day has a history of parades and speeches. But it is at its most powerful when a simple acknowledgement is passed from one patriot to another. Service members believe we worked for the greater good and, like the road less traveled, it made all the difference.
One of the best things I ever did for myself was to commit six-plus years to the United States Navy. On the surface, it was service to my country, but it was so much more to me. To anyone who will listen I continue to champion the personal growth and value coming from that single life choice.
I wasn't self-aware enough to know it would be such a formative experience. When you are living it the impact hasn't reached its potential. Given time to reflect, there is an individual awakening that extends a lifetime beyond the commitment.
I see so many people who have been motivated and found purpose through the rigors of the training and the discipline from a structured environment. The personal power that comes from getting through those first few weeks and being part of something so much bigger than yourself is inestimable and impossible to replicate through other avenues.
Alexander Hamilton is attributed with saying that there is a certain enthusiasm in liberty that makes human nature rise above itself in acts of bravery and heroism.
I believe that in that rise above self we discover who we are and what we are capable of and that is a lesson all of our sons and daughters need to learn.
There is no longer a military draft, but I am pretty confident we would all be better off had we spent at least two years in service to our country. We can expand our criteria of what it means to be veterans and accept the role of some form of public service as well as military service that would qualify.
Our country's mood toward its veterans has shifted from time to time. The Vietnam era veterans were at best neglected and at worst reviled. That is not a time that should ever be repeated.
A way to accomplish that respect and appreciation is to have that shared experience. Those who have invested in the outcome will be more willing to ensure its success and appreciate its sacrifices.
It may be time for us to heed the need and find a way for every citizen to become a United States veteran. That would give us all some common ground from which to pursue the currently elusive common good.
Lynn Spruill, a former commercial airline pilot, elected official and city administrator owns and manages Spruill Property Management in Starkville. Her email address is [email protected]
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