Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

**This post is very different from most of my others. There is a soap box involved. It might have a significant impact on you. It might make you uncomfortable. I welcome feedback and comments. My intent is motivation and gratitude and the promotion of positive change.**

On November 11, 1918 at 11:00 am, World War I ended on the Western Front. The day came to be known as Armistice Day, a remembrance day for those who served in World War I.

An act approved in 1938 declared the holiday "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace". In the United States, this holiday is now known as Veterans Day, a day to honor Veterans from all wars.

November 11 is my birthday. I do not think it is a coincidence.

I have long been motivated to promote peace. I have a Masters in History through which I learned about peace and conflict, particularly in the way that war affects the home front. I quickly learned that historical events are not straightforward. They are complicated and messy and the only way to understand what really happened is to get many, many perspectives. This is true for current events, too.

I have learned that the best way to get people to engage with an issue is to make it relevant to them. Historical controversial topics must be presented to the public in a way that opens a dialogue rather than shuts people down. This is true for current controversial topics, like the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our military personnel sacrifice so much. Whether you approve of the wars or not, it is important to acknowledge these sacrifices. It is also important that we understand that their sacrifices are not over if they are lucky enough to return home.

You have heard the stories about PTSD. You have read about the soldiers who attack their own. They have been trained not to ask for help or acknowledge that they need it.

We must do more to help our Veterans transition back to civilian life. We must demand more attention to this transition from our government, from the military, and from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Silence in the name of morale is not justified.

Each and every soldier deserves to have a chance to lead as normal a life as possible when their service is done. Too many of them are not truly given this chance. They suffer. Their families and friends suffer. Our society suffers.

What can you do to help? Start talking about it. Start asking questions. Start making requests. Show your support beyond acknowledging a national holiday. Take the self-help strategies you so wonderfully share with your readers and find a way to address this need.

Humanity comes first. What role will you play in the cause of world peace? That is the best form of thanks we can give.

Thank you to our Veterans and military personnel.
Thank you to the parents, spouses, and children of our Veterans and military personnel.
Thank you to the friends, caregivers, volunteers, and government employees who support our Veterans and military personnel.

Special thanks to suZen at Erasing the Bored for a conversation that inspired me to share my thoughts with all of you.

**Update: I just found out about Bloggers Unite and their Veterans Day: Who Will Stand campaign. If you're interested in reading what other bloggers are writing about the holiday and about supporting our Veterans, check it out here.**


  1. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your thoughts. Your post is very thought-provoking and I hope it does exactly as you asked...starts conversations! I know it certainly gave me some additional insight. =)

  2. Mindy - Thank you for your comment. I have been a bit nervous about responses I might get to this one, and yours helped me relax a bit. I'd love to hear about your insight since I am still learning about this problem and I want to make sure I am rooted in fact, not belief.

  3. Happy Birthday! Relax - you did good!!!! Thanks for the mention!

  4. suZen - I'm so glad you think so, thank you! Your post about your experiences really sparked something in me and I am so grateful for your part in my journey. Thank you.

  5. Thank you for support combat Veterans like me.

  6. Sean - Thank you so much for visiting my blog! I enjoyed reading your post and I only hope that I can continue to learn about Veterans' experiences and find a way to support them/you each and every day. Thank you for your service.

  7. Daphne,
    This is pure awesomeness! The man in my life is a vet. My father is a vet. My Uncle was a vet and many, many other significant life-changing men and women (that impacted my life) were vets.

    They deserve our honor and attention! I am going to check out that post.

    Happy Birthday sweet Daphne! I do believe you were born on the correct day!

  8. Angelia - Thank you so much! It is amazing how many people we know are Veterans and how much they have affected our lives. I really appreciate your support and birthday wishes, thank you.

  9. I feel a great debt to veterans, but with all my heart, I wish we didn't have to have a military presence. I don't know if this makes any sense: I am anti-war, but pro-soldier. Walking by war memorials always makes me want to cry.

  10. Mary - I think one of the most important changes in the United States during the current conflicts is that we have learned to distinguish between supporting the soldiers and supporting the war. I am the same as you, anti-war and pro-soldier. To be honest, I'm not sure there are too many people who are truly pro-war once they know what it really means. The war memorials are there to remind us so that we can try to prevent future wars from happening at all. Thank you so much for your comment.

  11. Hi Daphne. First of all .. a belated, but heart felt, 'Happy Birthday'. We, as you discovered first, share the same birthday!

    It's interesting how the perspective changes from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

    Over here in Europe, 11th November is marked differently country by country (in some places it's a public holiday, in other's not). The focus though is honouring those who died in the wars - usually the military rather than the civilians.

    From reading several articles on 'Veteran's Day' I get the impression that the focus in the US is more on honouring the soldiers who are still alive (whether still in service or not)?

    I am definitely with you on the 'anti-war' and 'pro-soldier' position. Soldiers are just as much human beings as everyone else - and in many cases have experienced things that no human being should be asked to experience. I dream of a world where our governments no longer ask our young men and women to risk their lives in this way.

  12. Ian - Thank you for the birthday wishes! Historically, November 11 was for remembering those we lost in World War I. In the United States, we have Memorial Day, which tends to focus more on those who lost their lives in service to our country. Veterans Day here has evolved into something else and is now decidedly about those who are living.

    I have the same dream that you expressed. I only hope I have an impact on making the dream a reality.


I welcome and appreciate your comments!