Originally referred to as Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day historically represents the day that a temporary cessation of hostilities was issued for the The Great War. This armistice occurred on November 11th, 1918. Then, a year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that November 11th would be a day for our nation to commemorate this event and to remember the lives lost throughout the war:
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
However, when you type the words “Veteran’s Day” into Google such notable quotes or historical facts are not necessarily the first thing to appear. Instead, the suggested “Top Stories” readily tell users which restaurants offer special discounts, and which stores have the best the sales over the long weekend. Google’s “People Also Ask” section showcases different versions of the same question, “Why do we celebrate Veteran’s Day?”
Even as a military spouse, I find myself asking the same question. In preparing to write this article, I took the time to ask other military spouses, as well as civilians, what they felt the purpose of Veteran’s Day to be. The majority of those that I spoke with gave a similar response: Veteran’s Day is about honoring those who have served. But isn’t that something that we, as a nation, should be doing every day? Why do we need to have a day set aside to remind us to give our service members the honor and respect that they deserve?
After giving the matter some thought, I think the answer lies in President Wilson’s original message to the American people. Veteran’s day is about reflection. Instead of simply giving the generic response of honoring the troops, take a moment to actually reflect on the commitment and sacrifice that they have made. Though myself, and many other military families, live everyday with the knowledge that our husbands and fathers could be (and often are) injured in their service to the nation, we also take comfort in the firm belief that this nation is worth our sacrifice. By joining the military, or simply by marrying into it, we are affirming this belief and committing ourselves to the lifestyle that comes with it.
So, this Veteran’s Day, instead of simply posting a status about “respecting the troops” as you drive to the nearest sale, pause for at least a moment. Pause, and put yourself in the shoes of those who serve this country. Pause, reflect, and if you are so moved, find your way to a parade or other ceremony in honor of this day. Because one way that you can show your appreciation and understanding of the sacrifice made by our soldiers is to honor them as a community, to offer a show of force in honor of our armed forces.Give our soldiers, and their families, a reminder of why their sacrifice is worth it by taking the day to showcase your appreciation and gratitude.
Jessica Downing: Fayetteville, North Carolina native and military spouse, Jessica currently resides in the Florida Panhandle where she teaches Secondary English and is active in her local military community.