Salute Our Nationís Real Heroes
Time has now arrived. Jokes and jokers, wisecracks and wiseacres along with the dis-and-misinformation poohbahs can be sent to the woodshed. I want to return to some important matters.
On Friday coming when, with all due respect, the vast majority of the population has been freed and no longer non-plussed by looking down the barrels of the money-grabbers – no, not the TV hucksters – the professional politicians, we can stand and salute those real heroes on Veterans Day.
Some celebrations and parades have already blessed communities. A few more are on tap around Maryland, Virginia and the District. Don’t forget the National Cemetery in Arlington.
Lots of flowers and flags will be garnishing the late vets’ resting places. This is the perfect time for remembering all who have given their lives and those still with us.
In case someone might not know, Veterans Day was first called Armistice Day. This came at the end of the Great War, World War I. In 1954 the 83rd Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day making it a federal holiday. General of the Army-President Dwight Eisenhower signed the measure into law.
We all probably know this war, the Great One, wasn't the last. Please note, 53,513 Doughboys (Americans for the young people) gave their lives.
In World War II, a total of 292,131 deaths were recorded by the Army, Army Air Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine and other services. More than 16 million Americans served in Europe and the Pacific.
In the Korean War, 33,652 GIs were killed trying to avert World War III. Don't kid yourself, it was not a police action and not funny.
Let's visit Vietnam. The U.S. military recorded 58,315 killed in action. Thousands were wounded and injured for life.
Since 2001, 6,251 U.S. troops have been killed in action – 4,474 in the Iraq War; 1,695 American soldiers have died in the war in and around Afghanistan as of Oct 7, 2011. I'm sorry to note that these figures do not include those men and women wounded and disabled for life.
The price Americans have paid for freedom around the world can’t be counted but must be considered especially on Veterans Day as flags wave, picnic lunches and dinners are enjoyed and war stories shared of the heroic men and women.
We should never forget events from these wars: trench warfare, gassing of troops, Pearl Harbor (the Day of Infamy), the Bataan Death March, Iwo Jimo, saving Britain and Europe, the devastation of concentration camps and the rescue of millions.
Stories abound from Vietnam about the heroes, we know lots of their names, and the Chosin Reservoir soldiers in Korea.
I know there are thousands of wonderful stories from the heroes.
Further, every American, not just those who served and are serving, should be wearing red poppies. The remembrance poppy is an artificial flower used worldwide since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war, and represents a common or field poppy.
A brief history shows President Woodrow Wilson commemorated the day for first time on November 11, 1919. He proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.”
The armistice ending WWI was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
Ask yourself, who rescues the world? Thankfully, the men and women of the United States.
[Editor’s Note: As an aside, Erni Nasher, well known Frederick restaurateur, who introduced the local community to pizza, was 11 years old on Armistice Day 1919.]