Veterans Day has evolved over the years and today represents a day set aside to thank all who serve – and have served - America. They deserve it. Days, weeks, months, years of separation . . . of time spent “in the sandbox”, “in Injun country”, “in the boonies”, “on the beaches”, “in the trenches”. . . . words that are clichés in our language . . . but which are phrases that represent sounds, tastes, smells, emotions to those who have served.
They have survived.
Thank you . . . .
That said, I’d like to return to the beginning of this date for a few moments.
July 28,1914 proved to be day that would show the folly of human treaties. A single domino in the form of an assassination in Serbia lead to a cataclysm that lasted 1,586 days, consumed the treasures of every single developed nation on the face of the earth as well as over 9 million of their sons, daughters and citizens.
Death came in new – never before seen – forms. From bullets spewed at unbelievable rates of fire, from newly developed automatic weapons to bombs dropped from planes. Old, familiar forms of battle on the field – mounted Calvary, large scale troop movements – gave way to primitive tanks, artillery mounted on rail and trench warfare.
And, perhaps the most iconic weapon of the period – gas. Mustard. Chlorine. Phosgene. Aerosols that blistered lung and skin alike.
New phrases that appeared for that period of time – GAS!! OVER THE TOP!! Dog Fight! Go West.
Men . . . American, British, French, German – and virtually every other American and European soldier experienced these moments in a profoundly intimate way. They went “over there” – filled with thoughts of glory on the battlefield. They were met by the giant maw that was “The Great War”, the “War to End All Wars”, World War I.
And, during the honors given to all Veterans that have served . . . these men deserve their moment. They rose above the trench, the machine gun, the gas to right the world’s course.
And, at the Eleventh Hour . . . of the Eleventh Day . . . of the Eleventh month . . . in 1918 their duty was complete . . .
To these men, to their memory . . . Thank You!
“To Absent Comrades”