“Have you ever stopped to ponder the amount of blood spilt, the volume of tears shed, the degree of pain and anguish endured, the number of noble men and women lost in battle so that we as individuals might have a say in governing our country? Honor the lives sacrificed for your freedoms. Vote.”
—Richelle E. Goodrich
Today’s tribute to all war veterans, and last Tuesday’s election, are two dates on November’s calendar that should remind all Americans that few breaths can be taken on this soil without gratitude.
Our unique Republic, cast 227 years ago by bright and inspired minds that wrote the Constitution of the United States, stands as a beacon of democracy and freedom. But the light from that beacon — and the freedom to vote last Tuesday — wouldn’t be possible were it not for our American men and women soldiers who have fought to protect it.
Thanks to their sacrifices, our democracy has been free of tyranny and oppression from other countries on our own turf. Without them, the way of life we enjoy would never have been possible, let alone sustained.
Which is why Veterans Day is one of our nation’s most important federal holidays. It commemorates and gives heartfelt thanks to US soldiers who served their country and returned home.
Knowing the origin of Veterans Day is a good place to start to properly give such thanks. The holiday was created to celebrate and acknowledge all living U.S. military veterans. It is often confused with Memorial or Decoration Day, which began in the 1860s after the Civil War to remember and honor soldiers who were killed in combat.
Veterans Day was founded by President Woodrow Wilson on Nov. 11, 1919 and was originally called Armistice Day. That day was exactly one year after the official end of World War I.
Armistice Day honored World War I veterans, but in 1954, after the nation fought in World War II and the Korean War, it was changed to include all military veterans. Except for a brief period in the 1970s, Veterans Day has always been held on Nov. 11 to retain the holiday’s link with the actual date of the end of World War I.
Our country’s insistence to keep Nov. 11 as a national holiday to honor veterans shows a commitment of thankfulness and respect. And yet, it is well known that many veterans today, some of whom are Tooele County residents, struggle to receive veterans’ benefits and services. We see those struggles as contradictory to the heart and soul of the Veterans Day intent. Our veterans not only deserve far better, they shouldn’t have to ask for it.
The citizens of Tooele County have a distinguished history of defending our nation. According to US Census information, there are approximately 4,000 military veterans in the county today. Although it will never be enough, we thank each of them for their bravery, service and sacrifice.
Veterans Day also brings to mind something Benjamin Franklin said after he helped to write our nation’s constitution in 1887. When publicly asked what he and the other founding fathers had created with the document, he reportedly replied, “A Republic. If you can keep it.”
America’s soldiers have been doing their part ever since to keep our republic intact. And we thank them.