On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an Armistice was signed, bringing an end to World War I. This is why we celebrate Veterans Day every November 11th. It was called the "war to end all wars," which, unfortunately, it was not. Our nation has called upon its citizens to take up arms numerous times before and since. Someone who has not served can't fully appreciate the mental and physical toll stresses of warfare on those we send to defend our country. What we can do is honor and respect the sacrifices that they have made on our behalf.
Remember, back in the day, it was common for people to sell paper poppies to raise funds for disabled veterans? Parents would always buy several of these poppies when they were being sold. As we grew, we learned the sobering significance of the poppies.
During the Second Battle of Ypres near Flanders, France, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae fought and clawed out an existence in trenches for over two weeks, as shrapnel and bullets filled the air above him. On May 2, 1915, his friend, Alexis Helmer, was killed. John, a physician, felt powerless. He buried his friend in a makeshift grave with a wooden cross at his head and noticed that poppies were beginning to bloom in the area. The imagery weighed on his mind, and the next day he composed his famous poem "In Flander's Field."
Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae's words have become an iconic call to remember the soldiers' sacrifices and take up the torch they carried. What is our responsibility to the heritage we have, for which these so dearly paid? I hope we take some time this coming Veterans Day to contemplate these brave men and women.
This and every Veterans Day, we should reflect on the heritage of sacrifice from which our freedoms are based. It is far more than just an occasion to sell things. If you know a Veteran buy them lunch, give them a treat or gift, or even thank them. Ask them about their service and, if they are willing to share, you will be astonished at the humble heroes that surround us. Happy Veterans Day to all that have served in the Armed Forces. We owe you more than we can never repay.