Happy Veterans' Day, everybody. Be sure to thank any who have served that you know or see. If you are able, make it to any memorial program you can. Which, actually, brings me to what I wanted to write about.
I hate how Veterans' Day is handled. It's a throwaway, greeting card holiday the way it's set up now. Nobody outside of the government gets the day off, it gets lip service but little else in the national conscious. And that just seems so wrong.
I think part of the reason is the "Greatest Generation"* is now a passed or passing generation. World War II ended in 1945. That was sixty-six years ago. 66. People who were never alive during that war are retirement age now. The average World War II veteran is now in their late 80's. I couldn't find a number of living World War II vets, but we apparently lose 850 a day. World War I, when Veterans' Day was conceived** began almost a century ago. Ninety-seven years. 97. There are no more living American veterans from this war, ending with Frank Buckles in February.
*A nickname I actually abhor, but they've claimed it and run with it.
**The Treaty of Versailles was actually signed on June 28, 1919, but the armistice that actually stopped the fighting went into effect on November 11, 1918 (at the 11th minute of the 11th hour). If people realize the day is connected to World War I and its ending at all, many confuse the armistice with the treaty.
Those are considered the last great wars of the United States. Korea is known as the "Forgotten War," which tells you about everything you need to know about that. Vietnam has only in the last ten or fifteen years become a "respectable war," which probably has a lot more to do with the Vietnam generation reaching a certain age and the World War II veterans becoming scarce. There have been some "wars" since, mostly with Iraq and lately Afghanistan. The mortality numbers there, though, are nothing compared to earlier wars. That, I think dulls us to the service and sacrifice of our veterans. The army is smaller, and justifiably so. It doesn't hit home the way it did with even Vietnam with the draft. It probably doesn't help that none of these wars were actually declared war. It still seems awfully fishy to me that the government instituted a draft for a war that wasn't, but I wasn't there, so maybe I shouldn't judge.*
*Oh, wait, I have a history degree. That's pretty much exactly what I studied how to do.
No, even if the sacrifice is smaller, it is still a sacrifice. It is still sending younger men to fight older politicians wars that there is often little or no personal connection to. Sometimes the older politicians have better reasons than other times, but that isn't the issue here. The issue here is veteran status doesn't hold the same cache it used to, and that is wrong. Even something as small as making Veteran's Day a real holiday would be a step in the right direction. It seems that will never happen in November, with Thanksgiving and then Christmas and New Years soon after. It seems the best bet would be to move Veteran's Day to something more relevant. As I said, there is nobody left from World War I. Armistice Day is dead in this country. Even Pearl Harbor doesn't carry real resonance with the majority of Americans. But I think we all know what day does. September 11.* Move the day to September, as that is the day today's wars, and thus today's veterans, are connected to. That is the day that chills the current generation of Americans to the bone. That seems to be the day that would get proper respect.
*Of course, now there are high schoolers who have only sketchy memories of that day. This plan would be one that would require changing the date of Veterans' Day fairly regularly, but I'm okay with that.
Thank you veterans. Especially my cousins Eric, Brian, and Jeff Bushue and a family friend Josh Witsman. Eric & Josh are currently in the Marines, Brian and Jeff are recently out of the Army. Thank you also to my uncles Bill and Bob Bushue, who were career military men, and George Albert, who