On November 11, 2011, or 11/11/11, we honor and thank the men and women who serve our country. Veterans Day was instituted three years after the end of World War I. It ended at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
For most people, this is a much appreciated day off. Not so for our troops. They work diligently through holidays and weekends, twenty-four-seven, securing our safety and freedom.
America has been fighting two of the longest wars in our history. However, we may finally have a reason to be optimistic. President Obama vowed to pull the remaining 40,000 U.S. troops from Iraq this year, symbolically ending the 9-year war.
In May, an elite team of U.S. Navy seals killed the mastermind of 9/11, Osama Bin Laden, in Pakistan, initiating the dismantling of Al Qaeda and the beginning of the end of the 10-year old war in Afghanistan. The president also promises to bring 33,000 American troops home by the summer of 2012, and continuing withdrawal at a steady pace allowing Afghans to take over their own security by 2014.
One way we can all show our appreciation to American military heroes who are stationed around the world is to write them letters. If you have a family member or friend serving, this is the perfect opportunity to say, “We miss you and thank you.” Have the kids participate and they will develop a deeper meaning of service and sacrifice. Pictures drawn are very popular and photos are a nice personal touch. If you want to make it easier for a soldier to respond to your letter, enclose a self- addressed return envelope with a blank piece of paper inside it.
There are also books appropriate for children that reveal more about the war on terrorism and past wars.
The War on Terrorism series, by DianeYancey traces the day-to-day efforts of American armed service personnel in a nation that many of them hardly knew of prior to their deployment. The book describes the soldiers’ daily routine, including the problems of hygiene, diet, shelter, and climate.
The Wall by Eve Bunting is a richly illustrated story about a father and his young son who visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to find the name of the grandfather the boy never met.
In Going Solo, children’s author Roald Dahl writes of his own experiences as a pilot during World War II.
However you decide to spend Veterans Day, you may enjoy taking a moment to reflect on our incredible fortunes as a free nation and remember who keeps, not only Americans, but millions of people across the globe secure. And then pray for peace. We need our troops home and we can certainly use some of the military budget to stimulate our economy.
Perhaps Charles Sumner said it best, “Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud. I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth. I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace.”
Contact Margaret Lavin at firstname.lastname@example.org.