Today, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day; a day when once a year we pay our respects to those who served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard.
It’s a day when veterans themselves take a moment or two to reflect on their service and what it meant to them, then and now.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2014 there are 21.8 million military veterans, 10 percent of whom are women. In addition to the nation’s veterans who are still alive, Veterans Day is also a day to recognize and remember those veterans who have passed away.
The history of Veterans Day dates back to Nov. 11, 1919 and the commemoration of Armistice Day. Congress later passed a resolution in 1926 creating an annual observance, and in 1938, Nov. 11 became a national holiday. On Oct. 8, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the Veterans Day Proclamation. The below comment by Eisenhower perfectly sums up the meaning and purpose of Veterans Day.
“Now, therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, Nov. 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting and enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain. I also direct the appropriate officials of the government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day,” the proclamation reads.
Most veterans merely want to be recognized with a handshake and “thank you.” It’s that simple for them.
Those who’ve served in military uniform selflessly gave up a few years of their life–if not a career–to serve our country, during peacetime and war. They turned their ideology and passion into service.
The sacrifices these individuals in uniform have made is staggering, with the majority having to leave their communities to venture out into a new state or country, and abide by military rules and regulations far more strict than those in the civilian world.
If called upon to serve in combat, these veterans didn’t hesitate, but rather acted immediately, with the sole intent and mission to defend America.
Unfortunately, there are many other veterans walking among us, living on the streets, without jobs, disabled or in homeless shelters.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are approximately 40,000 homeless veterans on any given night. I don’t know about you, but I find that number disturbing.
These men and women deserve more than a “thank you.” They are entitled to the assistance and resources available to move forward and become an asset to the civilian world.
When you have time, look into Lehigh Valley homeless shelters to possibly donate food, blankets and other items these veterans may need.
And be sure, if you personally know a veteran or meet one, to express your appreciation and gratitude for their service.
Without these men and women, America would not be the safe and secure country we are.
Bath resident Mark Reccek began reporting in 2010. He is a former distressed debt reporter for Prospect News, an online publisher of stock market and financial news. He also serves as a web reporter for WFMZ and the Lehigh Valley Press weekly newspapers. A Lehigh Valley native, Mark graduated from Lehigh University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science. He also holds a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, having served active duty from 1996-2000.